Sunday, May 24, 2009

Conscious Cooking

Exert from the Introduction of my book Conscious Cooking, which will hopefully exist somewhere other than on my laptop soon!

So many books on food have been published in the past few years. Most of these seem to be focused on weight loss in one form or another. There are books that help you count calories, carbs, glycemic points and pH values. You can make food choices based on your blood type. You can eat all the bacon you want, but stay away from the potatoes. You can eat all the potatoes you want, as long as you only combine them with other vegetables. Only eat vegetables. Only eat fruit. Don’t eat anything after 4:00pm.
It’s exhausting and more then a little confusing. Especially when it is compared to the other message heard loud and clear in our society which is to consume as much easy, quick, sugar-laden foods as possible, and yes, I would like to Supersize that. No wonder most diet plans go up in a chocolate-binging blaze by Tuesday night.
These contradictory messages are also heard by our children. Children lack knowledge and life-experience to understand the biochemical reactions that happen in their bodies when they eat. It is easy to get caught up in dysfunctional attitudes towards food and food preparation, but these don’t appear to be doing anything good for our kids. Everywhere we turn people are worried about the fact that childhood obesity is at an all time high. What used to be referred to as “adult onset diabetes” is now seen in kids under the age of ten. Obesity is about to overtake smoking as the number one preventable cause of death in North America. The average North American child sees roughly 7 000 - 10 000 television commercials annually for food, and the vast majority of these are for sugary cereals, candy, pop and fast food. We live in a fast-paced society, and it is very easy for kids to get caught up in fast-food culture. How do parents instill a positive message in kids in light of these trends? Add to that the fact that they are born with a sweet tooth. They are told to eat every bite on their plate, but thanks to the rise in numbers for childhood obesity, many are now forced to ‘weigh in’ in gym class in front of their peers. The end result is that kids are extremely confused about food and their health and their parents are often unable to help them.
This is not a diet book. Even though in publishing terms it would probably be a smart idea to turn it into one, since people seem to keep buying them; I don’t think I could write a diet book, and certainly not with a straight face. Rather, this is a book about food and its role in a child’s life.

Touch for Health Class

We are running another Touch for Health class next weekend: May 30 & 31.
Why should this interest you?
Touch for Health sets the groundwork for all kinesiology. It is a wonderful tool for anyone who would like to be able to test what vitamins, minerals, foods, etc. are good for them and their family.
Level One is the core of Touch for Health. In this class we learn the fourteen basic energy meridians along with their placement and function in the body. We learn fourteen muscles that act as indicators for stress in those meridians, and five different ways of balancing them, including spinal reflexes, neurolymphatic points, neurovascular points, meridian tracing, origin/insertion technique and nutrition. Accurate muscle testing and pre-checks are also taught, along with simple and effective pain techniques and emotional stress release. There is so much more - it will absolutely amaze you!
Prerequisites: none, except a willingness to try something new and have fun
Investment is $250 which includes Touch for Health manual, binder full of handouts one-year newsletter subscription form CanASK, and a certificate.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

In reply...

Dear Ex-drone,
I think it's interesting that up to this point, the only people reading my blog were friends, clients and well-wishers, but the second I post something that dares to challenge the NHP regulations I have comments from someone I don't know. Your post popped up about three hours after my original one - it's amazing to think that you were casually surfing the net without any agenda and just happened upon my little article!

I believe in transparency. Buckley is pretty blatant about his loyalties and where they lie and one has no doubt when speaking to him that this is a personal passion for him as well as a legal one. He spoke in depth about the Truehope case, so I did know that he was involved there. He also mentioned the three suicides that occurred immediately after a natural product that was used to help people with manic depression was taken away.

But I don't feel like it's my job to defend Buckley - he's a lawyer, he can handle that himself! I'm more interested in some of the information you have posted about NHPs and their removal from the shelves of health food stores. Of course on the surface, Canadians want the regulations: we were asked if NHPs should be tested for safety and efficacy and that sounds like a really good idea. But anyone who has ever looked at the application process has to admit that it is set up in a way that almost ensures failure. The "thousands of products" that have been passed through are almost all single ingredient products, mostly vitamins and minerals. The more complicated herbal formulas have to go through such an arduous procedure to be accepted that it looks impossible. NHPs such as single amino acids and glandular extracts are already disappearing. People are not as concerned as they should be because, as you nicely pointed out, the shelves look full. The large companies are not going to fold over these regulations, they will simply become dull and ineffective as they all make their own version of the same products. Innovation will die. New products imported from other countries will become non-existent.

As you mentioned, the regulations have been in effect since 2004, however the deadline - as you well know - is not until 2010. Thousands of applications are stuck in a backlog and it is anyone's guess (though I know where my money is) whether those will have gone through the process or not by next year. Many small companies are simply waiting until they are forced out. Is there a certain amount of self-interest here as you allege? Of course. This is their work, their livelihood, the way they feed their children and it is mine as well. You illustrate your point dramatically by comparing NHP regulations to the need for crumple zones and air bags in cars. Now I'm sure that if I could propel a bottle of dandelion root down a road at 100km per hour it would cause some damage worthy of the kind of restrictions it is facing. But at a couple drops under the tongue, I can't help but wonder what the real concern is.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Are You Free?

“Are you free?” At a presentation given by Shawn Buckley this past week in Kelowna he posed this question. Buckley is a lawyer who is probably best known for his work defending the manufacturers and producers of certain natural health products when they are threatened by Health Canada. He stated that as Canadians it is essential that we start thinking about health as a freedom issue.

The ability and freedom of each individual to choose how to care for his or her body is being slowly taken away. Under the NHP regulations (which you may have read about here weeks ago when I was ranting last!) we will lose an estimated 75% f our natural health products that are currently available. This has already begun as small to medium sized companies that can’t afford the kind of bureaucratic hoop-jumping that is required to apply for product licenses are closing their doors. Add to this the fact that roughly 20,000 American products have been withdrawn by companies unhappy with our weird new regulations and you can see how this is affecting your freedom to take care of your body right now.

One fun example of this: the company Organic Essentials was forced out of business because they could no longer afford the licensing fees after Health Canada decided to reclassify their organic tampons as a Class 2 medical device. Other companies have not yet closed their doors, but are playing a waiting game with Health Canada, aware that they could have their products removed from store shelves at any time after the looming 2010 deadline.

According to Buckley, one of the first steps required to fight this loss of freedom is a shift in attitude. People need to stop thinking of natural health products as something dangerous that we need to be protected from. If we look at our neighbours to the south, we see that NHPs are unregulated and can be purchased off the shelves of any Wal-Mart. They are only pulled off the shelf if they are proven dangerous – innocent until proven guilty. There is not a single documented case of death caused by an NHP in Canadian history, so why are we so worried? In contrast, nuts kill people every single year, often small children whose parents are not yet aware that they have allergies. Could you imagine taxpayers standing idly by while their money was used to fund Peanut Butter Regulation Boards and studies, eventually pulling nuts off the shelves or making them only available with a doctor’s permission?

Bill C-51 and C-52 were shouted down as people made their voices heard loud and clear that the kind of regulations and powers suggested within were unacceptable. Bill C-6 was introduced about a month ago and is basically C-52 reincarnate – the only real difference is that it no longer says that it applies specifically to NHPs. But Buckley points out that this Bill has some very scary things in it; including the loss of private property and the loss of the ‘rule of law’, the system that has been in place for hundreds of years to keep the state from abusing its power. It would only be a matter of time before these barbaric methods of control would be extended to health products, making all of us who choose herbs over prescriptions perspective criminals.

In response to this Bill and the NHP regulations, Buckley along with his colleagues Peter Helgrasson and Tiffany Sampson have formed the Natural Health Products Protection Agency (NHPPA). “We formed the NHPPA because the existing groups were not bringing enough attention to the issue.” The NHPPA provides a legitimate and credible analysis of documents like Bill C-51 and sets up a process that other groups can use to help spread information. Buckley grins as he mentions the time the Minister of Health called him a “scoundrel” in the National Post. Now if that isn’t evidence that they are on the right track, I don’t know what is.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Lemon joy cookies

1 cup soft butter
21/2 cups spelt flour
1 cup arrowroot starch flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ cup honey
¼ cup plain soy milk
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients into the butter in the order shown. Roll into small balls and press with thumb on a baking tray. Bake for about 15 minutes. Let them melt on your tongue.

greens+ energy treats

2 cup dates
1 1/3 cup raw almonds
1-2 tbsp honey
4 scoops ‘greens+ kids’
Shredded coconut

Use a food processor to chop the dates and almonds very fine. Pour the mixture into a bowl and add the honey (the honey is there to help the mixture stick together – use only the amount that you need) and greens+ powder. Use your hands to form the mixture into small balls and roll in the coconut until they are coated. Put the balls in a freezer-safe container and eat cold on a hot day!

Love is in the air

Perfume sales are extremely high this week. Why is this? It’s because people have come to understand the intense connection between smell and romance. I am not talking about the pheromone-scent that is given off by the opposite sex and that lures us in without being consciously aware (and which cheesy infomercials say you can now buy to help make your wildest dreams come true!). I am referring to the scents around us that we can choose to use to our advantage.
Our olfactory nerves connect directly to the limbic brain where many of our emotions and memories are stored. Because of this, a scent can instantly trigger a very vivid memory or conversely, serve to make you unforgettable. Perfume manufacturers know this, and include a variety of odd notes to create signature scents that will appeal on a chemical level to a wide mix of people. You don’t need to buy an expensive label to get this effect though; you can do it yourself with a few oils and spices.
There are many essential oils that are reported to have aphrodisiac qualities. One that you’ll find in most blends is ylang-ylang. Its scent is hard to classify as it is floral, yet spicy, rich and sweet. Because of this it is used extensively in cosmetics, soaps, bubble baths, etc. There is a tradition in Indonesia to spread these flowers on the bed of a newly married couple. Ylang-ylang’s reputation as an aphrodisiac may come from its healing affects on the nervous system: neutralizing stress, depression and tension. Its beneficial affects on the circulatory system probably help in this respect too. The writer of one aromatherapy book stated that this oil “soothes and inhibits anger born of frustration.”
In one large survey done with men of a variety of ages, it was discovered that the scent most likely to arouse young men is cinnamon. In older men the most attractive smell is vanilla. Don’t ask me where the cut off is between the two! It kind of makes you want to bake something though, doesn’t it?
I have written extensively on cinnamon as it relates to blood sugar and how it heals the digestive system, but never on the perks it could have for your love life. Cinnamon is recognized as a general stimulant, encouraging good circulation and overall health. Like ylang-ylang, it helps the body deal with stress more efficiently, easing nervous tension and exhaustion. The two oils complement each other rather well and are often paired together in perfume blends. One note of caution is that cinnamon oil can irritate the skin and should only be used well diluted with some form of carrier oil (grapeseed oil works very well for massage) or unscented lotion.
Vanilla is harder to find good information on as it is usually not considered a true aromatherapy oil. The scent is very relaxing and will usually evoke pleasant memories. People report a sense of being transported “home” when they breathe it in.
Many other oils fall into this category, including rose, neroli, jasmine, and plain old black pepper. Whether you choose to add these scents to oil for a special massage, diffuse them through the room to set the atmosphere, wear them on your skin as your own unique perfume, or create a meal with attention to spices, the results are sure to be spectacular.