Best Sardine Recipe

I encourage the eating of sardines regularly in my work as a nutritional educator because it’s one of the best ways to get Omega 3 essential fatty acid. A 3 ounce can contain about 1000 milligrams of Omega 3. But it’s sometimes met with resistance.

Sardines are a little strong in flavor but there are many ways to eat them that taste delicious; in a red sauce, with mustard or mayo on bread or pasta. I’m always thinking about the best ways to eat them. This recipe ranks as being one of the tastiest I’ve found yet.

I modified the following recipe based on what I had in the house:

Pan Fried Sardines on Real Food Kosher.com 

It calls for lemon juice, garlic, arrowroot powder, parsley, cumin, pepper and salt fried in coconut oil and served on lettuce.

I didn’t have any lemons or parsley so I tried to think of something acidic I might use instead. I had kalamata olives so I mixed them with the sardines, added the arrowroot powder, cumin, black pepper and salt. You make them into little patties and fried them in coconut oil. The results? Delicious and not much of that strong fishy taste. Only good savory flavors.

Sardines can run as cheap as a $1.29 per can. I recommend getting the sardines in water since we don’t know the quality of the oil they are packed in and often those cost more anyways. You are also getting around 300 milligrams of calcium per can.  And of course sardines are a good source of protein as well.

Fry them with olives or use the original recipe. Either way eat more sardines!

Is Kale the Best Green to Eat?

In the past few years kale has taken the cake as being the new almighty vegetable and the symbol for healthy eating.  It’s good news, it means people are eating more vegetables and more greens. Go chlorophyll, antioxidants, vitamins and fiber! It’s my go to veggie as well–after all there are at least four kinds of kale.

But let me remind you that kale wasn’t born yesterday.

It’s been on the market for quite sometime. My parents whom are organic farmers have been growing it since the 1980’s. There are a slew of other greens we might enjoy and one of the best things we can do health wise whether we are vegan, a carnivore or somewhere in between– is to eat widely. Eating a variety of plants, seeds and protein sources will offer our bodies an important spectrum of nutrients and phytochemcials. Becoming too narrow can be problematic health wise.

There is no secret ingredient that is going to make you healthy.

(Well, there are but it’s about 5 things including overall diet, exercise, stress and lifestyle.)

Kale eating has become a trend which is not inherently bad, especially not for kale. It’s also been declared a super food–which is a whole other discussion. Let me repeat: one single nutrient will not make you healthy.

I’d much rather that kale become popular than fast food eating. But health is much more than a trend and the culture of food and health in this country still seems to exist in extremes. While the organic industry and natural products are selling in the high billions, we are still poised between the nutty health people and those that are sticking to traditions.

The list is long for greens. We might consider:

Collards (also not the new kale, collards have been a staple of black Southern food for ages)
Bok Choy
Cabbage
Chinese Cabbage
Mizuno
Swiss Chard
Broccoli
Broccolini
Mustard Greens
Spinach
All the Lettuces
Romaine
Butter
Red Leaf
Frisee
Endive
Escarole

Greens of your favorite roots can be cleverly worked in soups, smoothies, bakes, sautees and are not just for compost such as:

Beets
Carrots
Turnips

And quite a few others depending on your markets or what you decide to grow in your garden.

Let us enjoy our kale and look beyond. I read in an article today in the Nation where healthy concerned Berkeley, California parents were referred to as kale-growing and health conscious. Another fitness maven I discovered recently put on their website as a tagline: I don’t eat meat. I eat kale.

Really, I get the sentiment and I am grateful. Eating a plant-based diet will go along way and it’s the foundation that our obesity/diabetes/cancer nation so desperately needs. I also see where we need to get specific. Just using the word healthy doesn’t cut it.

How would you describe people dedicated to putting the best nourishing foods our planet has to offer on our plates?

More about what I think it takes to be healthy here. 

SF Mime Troupe “Ripple Effect”

Seeing the San Francisco Mime Troupe every year is almost a pilgrimage for me.

Fortunately I was able to see this years production in their final show of the season at Dolores Park on Labor Day. As it got closer to attending and I was by myself, I realized I was completely okay with it. It’s my time to soak up ideas about revolution, problems with capitalism and the struggle that most of us 99% have to deal with in America. It’s my time to be inspired.

Bay Area 007

It was refreshing to see in the middle of all the gross changes in San Francisco that we could sit in Dolores Park, in the middle of it all (Mission District is one of most the rapidly changing and gentrifying neighborhoods) and make art about the sadness and struggle of the working class American. That we could address the very thing that was happening around us. And so this years production was on point with addressing displacement, evictions, encroaching technology and government surveillance. And as with many of the San Francisco Mime Troupe productions–the loss of dreams by visionaries and activists in the 1960’s 1970’s that wanted a better world.

They reminded us for those of whom might want to tack a back seat to politics or declare themselves as not political:

“There is no such thing as not political.” -Ripple Effect

While I was sitting there I couldn’t help but think about our world and feel like the problems with capitalism were insurmountable. This doesn’t change the system of capitalism but there are a few things that I thought of that can make a difference in the world that we live in.

“Everything has an impact. Revolution is not a threat, it’s a state of mind.” – Ripple Effect

1. How do you spend your time and how do you spend your money? The former ultimately ends up being what we do for work. Does your work represent your values or is it something you just do to survive? Do you save money or are you caught up in the cycle of spending? Where do you spend it? I think this is something we could all benefit from sitting down with and having a deep conversation with ourselves about regularly. There is an expression: your money or your life –and it expresses the reality that we become tied a cycle that controls our lives. It could be for our highest good or it good be for not.

2.  Support farmers. Go to farmers markets over or in addition to your local grocery store.  While some grocery stores are featuring local produce, the retailer is taking a cut. Shopping at a farmers market puts more money in the hands that feeds you, literally.  This is something we must preserve and at a local level. Grocery stores have food that is shipped from miles and miles away often from around the world. There is a cost to our environment and keeping us stuck in economic system that will help no one. The produce will be fresher too.

3. Even better. Grow your own food.

4.Support your local craft-person or artisan. Time for some new jewels? Don’t go to a chain store and get something made in China. Find the store in your area that features locally made jewelry and crafts. Sometimes they can be found at farmers markets or at special pre-Christmas sales. If you look around, your likely to find something that you can afford.

5. Move your money to a local bank or a credit union. This can be tough. When I have looked, it was hard to figure out how banking was going to work logistically. But if you can, do it and you’ll feel better that you are not supporting a ginormous corporate bank.

6. Don’t use credit cards. Your just hurting yourself and making corporations very rich. Unfortunately this can affect your credit score that qualifies you to rent a home which is unjust. By not participating in obtaining debt and paying it back you will have a low credit score which can count against you in renting. One way around this is to save a lot of money and offer to pay a number of months of rent upfront or flash the landlord a copy of your bank balance.

7. Vote. Vote. VOTE! I know, the system is broken but if we don’t exercise our voice in this way we might as well just give up and accept a mediocre existence.

8. If you work for a large company or corporation it may be tough to change it from the inside depending on your position. But here’s few things you can advocate for that won’t rock the boat.

–Being green in the workplace. Are they really being green or is there a green washing going on? Often there can be a cost involved but ultimately going green could end up being cheaper for the company in the long run.

–What is the policy for maternity leave? Does the company support breastfeeding in the workplace for nursing moms? How could it be better? What does this have to do with capitalism? Well, I am glad you asked? Supporting mothers in the work force supports equality for everyone. If we take care of the Mama’s then everyone’s happy.

9. Also shop coop. Network of Bay Area Worker Cooperatives.

This is just barely skimming the surface and doesn’t address changing things at structural level.  There is a lot more to talk about including the encroachment of technology as a capitalist product in our lives and the fight for housing rights in the Bay Area, which this years season of San Francisco Mime Troupe so importantly touched on.

How have in your life found that you can live more with less?

What ways have you chosen to live your life in or around a capitalist system?

Carnaval Photos San Francisco

I took many photos as I was excited to participate in Carnival this year— that is as a bystander.

When I lived in the Mission I almost got spoiled to the idea of Carnival. I could roll on out at whatever time I felt like. Even if I got there late there was still a lot to see. Now that I live in Oakland I made a point to get there early for the parade and cherish the spirit of Carnival I love so much.

One reason I love Carnival so dearly is that I started studying samba dance more than 20 years ago and was part of a samba dance troupe that performed in the Brazilian carnival style. I fell in love with Brazilian music and dancing samba instantly. I love the costumes, the feathers and of course the music! It’s a special joy one can experience through the drums, the colors and the smiles. I love Carnival in the Mission of San Francisco because it is an opportunity for people to come together and express cultural traditions from around the world including those from San Francisco! That opportunity extends for the people in the parade and the people watching. Baile!

Click on photos for a larger view.

 

The Organic Hustle

I’ve been at this a long time. Saying it like that makes it sound like I am old, but I’ve been part of a movement since before I could walk, so then yes it has been some time.

My parents were organic farmers and they started in 1975. That was almost 40 years ago! Even before ’75 they were macrobiotic practitioners studying away with other yin/yang hopefuls chewing brown rice together.

The organic food industry is now worth over 30 billion dollars!

It’s almost hard for me to make the jump. When did it get so big?

Back in the early 80’s only a handful of people cared about organic.

Back then it was just us. There were other farmers of course but we could point to them on a map.

In the mid 80’s we left the hustling and non-bustle of our small upstate New York town for better opportunity in what my Dad liked to call: The Rotten Apple, New York City. For several years my parents, me (I was 13 at the time), my younger siblings and a few hired helpers made the trip several times a week to New York City to make more money and move our produce. We farmed about 20 acres at the time.

My first memory of my Mom having a conversation with a customer about the fact that our produce had no pesticides was in the Union Square farmers market. The person commented about how important it was. Even though this was almost 30 years ago, I am pretty sure that the customer commented back about how it was better for your skin. Which is kind of odd since the most important thing you should be thinking about with pesticides– is endocrine system disruption and essentially… disease and cancer. But we didn’t have the phrase endocrine system disruption then or at least the public didn’t.

Bring it to this day forward. A group that does important activism and education around dangerous chemicals: The Environmental Working Group is having Endocrine Disruptor Week–a week of posts about chemicals to avoid on Facebook.

Times have changed for sure. It’s hard to say if things have gotten better. You might assume that it has with the vast spread of the organic movement, but at other times it seems we have more pressing needs then ever to live healthy in our environment.

It was simpler then when it was just me and family, some dirty carrots to wash and a drive from the farm to New York City.

Here’s EWG Dirty Dozen or follow them on Facebook to learn more about important chemicals to avoid.

What is Better, Flax Seeds or Fish oil?

Do you eat flax seeds for omega-3? Unfortunately you are probably getting very little actual omega-3 fatty acid from your flax seeds.

If you take fish oil you may disregard flax seeds but they are not to be missed. I use both but it’s not to get more Omega-3.

I rely on a good quality fish oil for my omega-3 needs and I don’t on flax or chia seed for getting enough of the essential fat because they are ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) Omega-3 and our body has to convert ALA into omega-3 EPA (eicosapentanaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) long chain form fatty acids. Conversion from ALA omega-3 is low and unknown and therefore ALA omega-3’s like flax and chia seed are not reliable.

Omega-3 demonstrates multitudes of research benefiting health conditions that myself and most people are concerned about such as: heart disease, brain and joint health. Also like most people I eat plentiful amounts of omega-6 (another essential fat but overly abundant in most American diets) therefore increasing my need for omega-3. The ratio between the two must be in balance for proper health. Also like many people I don’t eat a lot of fish so I must supplement.

Nutritionists recommend at minimum 500-1000 milligrams of omega-3 per day. If you are experiencing inflammation, at risk for heart disease or have a mood challenges your omega-3 needs will be quite higher.

Then why still the flax? For the lignans, fiber and research on cancer prevention. Especially for the lignans.

Lignans are special compounds that are significantly higher in flax seeds then in other plant foods. Lignans have demonstrated anticancer effects in humans and in animals. They show a particularly strong connection to the prevention and treatment of breast and prostate cancers. For women lignans can interfere with cancer effects at estrogen receptor sites and escort excess estrogen out of the body. One study gave men with prostate cancer 3 tablespoons of flax seeds per day for 30 days and they found significantly lower cancer proliferation rates and significantly higher rates of cancer cell death. After just one month!

So take your fish oil and grind your flax seeds daily. Make sure you get a fresh fish oil, one that is not oxidized, is sustainable and is third-party tested. If you are vegan then look for a Omega-3 supplement made from Algae that contains both EPA and DHA.

Grinding your own flax seeds with a coffee grinder is better than buying the already ground variety but if you have to–go through the bag quickly before they get rancid.

ground_flax_seeds

Throw your ground flax seeds over oatmeal or vegetables. You might need to own two coffee grinders. Three if you grind spices as often as you grind your flax seeds. Flax oil also makes great salad dressing. If you decide to purchase flax oil make sure you get the one with high lignans and shake the bottle. Lignans are in the fiber and the fiber tends to settle on the bottom of the bottle.