Blog

Natural Immune Boosting Ideas

It is a preventive so you do this before you get sick

  1. Raw Garlic (as Toum*)
  2. Ginger (tea). Also ginger pieces boiled with scallions as a tea*
  3. Chrysanthemum tea
  4. Pineapple ( I can only handle a piece a day. Too much Bromelain can cause canker sores)
  5. Shiitake and Maitake mushrooms (These are the easiest to find. Check out the 99 Ranch Market)*
  6. Manuka honey ( do not heat it or put in hot tea- heat destroys benefits. Can have on toast, in warm tea or straight from the spoon)
  7. No Dairy
  8. No sugar or refined carbs
  9. Make sure your Vitamin D intake is sufficient
  10. Probiotic rich foods https://elainemd.com/?s=probiotic&orderby=relevance&order=DESC
  11. Bone Broth
  12. Get a good night sleep. Be asleep between 11pm to 3pm at least. Seven to 8 hours per night is recommended.
  13. Avoid stress as stress can weaken your immune system. Practice mindfulness.
  14. Home made hand sanitizer with tea tree oil or other essential oils to keep viruses at bay https://elainemd.com/2017/05/11/toxic-shopping-cart-cleaner-alternatives/

Other helpful ideas are: humidify the air. Indoor heated air can be super dry. To increase the humidity without a humidifier – try hanging a damp towel over a chair and place near the heat vent or radiator, Vicks steam vaporizer ( It is very powerful. Might see streaks of water on your walls. If not careful could increase risk of mold), boil some water but need to watch it so you don’t burn you place down by causing a fire, Diffuser, facial steamers, steam from a hot cup of tea. The humidity helps ensure more intact mucous membranes in your nose and some viruses seem to thrive in dry air.

Acupuncture can boost your immunity.

I am not going to recommend any supplements here because if taken incorrectly, can potentially affect autoimmune disorders, trigger malignancies, allergies. Plus the quality of supplements in the USA is not reliable. Best one can do is to find a product that is GMP certified or 3rd party tested from a certified lab. Always check with your doctor if you have any personal concerns.

*Details

*1. Toum = 3 heads of garlic (it has to be fresh, smashing with a knife is the fastest way to peel them). Put peeled garlic cloves in food processor or blender with 1 tsp salt. Add juice of 1 lemon (1 tsp of juice at a time alternating with 1/2 cup of Canola oil or avocado oil. Do not use olive oil). I usually use a total of 1 1/2 cups of oil. Blend until looks like mayonnaise. After you eat this, your breath will be so bad that no one can come within 6 feet of you. LOL.

*2. Ginger and scallion tea- slice about 1 tbsp of fresh organic ginger and scallions (AKA green onions). Add to boiling water. Steep 10 mins. You can freeze them down so they keep longer.

Freeze Scallions and Ginger pieces

*5. Mushrooms – I slice up the mushrooms and toss in olive oil salt and pepper and then put in air fryer at 375-400 deg for 5-10mins…watch it does not burn. Cooks up fast.

Have 1 piece of pineapple- its up to you how much you can tolerate- too much gives me canker sores

Air Fryer Cauliflower, Brussel Sprout Chips and Shiitake Mushrooms

Please let me know what works for you in the comments.

What are your home remedies?

Reduce Flu, Cough, Cold and Covid19 Transmission

JUST GOOD IDEAS

Social Distancing

Stay at least 6 feet away from someone who is sick with a (potential) respiratory infection. No more hand shaking. Many cultures don’t hand shake anyway. No more cheek kissing.

Proper Hand Washing

Good to wash or sanitize your hands after after you come into contact with anything potentially contaminated immediately before you touch anything else. Frequent hand washing. Then there is Proper hand washing.

To do this, you need to wet your hands and then rub the soap all over your hands while singing the Alphabet song or count one Mississippi up to 20 Mississippi. It takes about 20 seconds to rub soap onto back and front of both hands; in between the front and back of the webs of your fingers, both sides of both hands, then to get soap each one of your digits, then all your nails esp the tips. The soap coats the bacteria and viruses on your skin. Rinsing with clean running water, washes them off. Note: if you have long nails, acrylic nails, or painted nails – these are difficult to clean and hence always hold some germs. Dry your hands. Turn the faucet off with the paper towel you dried your hands with. Faucets are a source of germs too. Moisturize afterwards to prevent drying of skin. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IisgnbMfKvI

Use hand sanitizer if you can’t wash. Use a brand equivalent in quality to Purell and use at least a dime sized amount of the gel. This process is good to kill viruses and bacteria but not spores. If you can’t wash or sanitize your hands, eat your food like a “Banana”. This means use a wrapper to hold your food if you can’t clean your hands. Do not tough your food if your hands are not washed properly. Do not touch you face or hair unless you have just cleaned your hands. If you have to touch, use the back of your hands or wrist. How to make your own hand sanitizer: https://elainemd.com/2017/05/11/toxic-shopping-cart-cleaner-alternatives/

Wear a Mask if You Are Sick or Not

You can reduce spread of Respiratory Infection by wearing a mask. You can reduce the spread of your own infection to other people by up to 60-80%.

I like the idea of everyone wearing masks because it prevents people spraying saliva in your face when they talk, accidentally coughing into your face, and coughing into their hands (yes people still do this). Taiwan, an island of 23 million, where they wore masks and took other precautions, had only 50 cases of Covid 19 as of March 2020, with 1 death.

Western country action and advice is not keeping up. I know the CDC disagrees. But maybe the real reason officials say this about not wearing masks is because there are not enough to go around. Intuitively it makes sense that respiratory contagions would spread less if we all wore masks. Below is a link that shows how to make your own mask.

https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-taiwan-case-study-rapid-response-containment-2020-3?fbclid=IwAR2oII9mCnazGn6b4fvGDoqAYDMBS59a9rEUYxaT6rMM14VrB2tNXcAzpOM

Screen Shot 2018-11-10 at 7.38.11 AM

“I am wearing this mask so I don’t make you sick” is a beautiful sentiment.

Here is link to make your own non stitched mask from University of Hong Kong. In a pinch, it is better than nothing. This mask should be worn with the face shield. Paper towel does not provide much protection against viruses. (this will be covered in a future blog on Homemade Masks). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNjpH5lBZ8w&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR3KiXFAXt34GAUhJgGHmbjTx2uwzSiaK4nVbFg3dRIfPdhu2BDarN5ZE9o

And https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCJcE-r7kcg is a better one but takes some sew machine skills.

There are different levels of mask protection too. Minimal protection are surgical type masks. Then there are N95, N99, N100. The number represents the percentage of air being filtered. Eg, N95 Filters at least 95% of airborne particles. The size of these particles filtered are 0.3 microns in size larger. These masks have to fit so there is a tight seal around all the edges. If you blow out quickly through your mouth, the mask should puff up. Meaning no air leaking through the sides. At hospitals, the occupational or employee health department fit the masks properly for us. I recommend the brand 3M, certified by NIOSH. They are a little uncomfortable to wear. They make it harder to breath because of an added layer of resistance. https://ohsonline.com/articles/2014/05/01/comparison-respiratory.aspx

Coughing Technique

Coughing into Elbow

Please cough into your shoulder or elbow. Do not cough into your hands unless you sanitize or wash them immediately afterwards. I see so many people who continue to cough into their hands and then touching everything around them. They seem to be completely unaware of the germs they are spreading. When you cough into your hands, your hands are covered with germs. Hence you contaminate everything you touch and can make other people sick. If you cough into a tissue, throw tissue away and then sanitize your hands. Don’t put the tissue into your pocket or purse (!)

Now for some fun – Gloria Gaynor singing, “I will survive” while washing her hands for 20 seconds. Love it.

Wearing masks: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/17/opinion/coronavirus-face-masks.html?fbclid=IwAR0VS07O28RyPaYHmXtPByFV6YOehkZsxQlt0PyNEX2QjjWwhpQ5JQ9ZfJA

Use of face masks by ill persons: CDC might recommend the use of face masks by ill persons as a source control measure during severe, very severe, or extreme influenza pandemics when crowded community settings cannot be avoided (e.g., when adults and children with influenza symptoms seek medical attention) or when ill persons are in close contact with others (e.g., when symptomatic persons share common spaces with other household members or symptomatic postpartum women care for and nurse their infants). Some evidence indicates that face mask use by ill persons might protect others from infection.


Part 4: A Must See

National Museum of African American History and Culture

For 3 years, I tried to see the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). First attempt, while in DC I tried to get same day tickets but my hotel wifi too slow and weekend tickets were in high demand, tickets were literally gone in a snap. 

Second time, I was more organized and got tickets 3 months in advance (they are free from NMAAHC website). But in 2019, we experienced the longest government shutdown. All the Smithsonian Museums were closed. I left DC disappointed again. 

This year I again booked advance NMAAHC tickets for MLK weekend. No government shut down but the evening before I was to go, I receive an email saying the History Gallery would be closed for repairs.

No way. Really? What are the chances of this happening? Why does the universe not want me to see this exhibit? But I was not deterred.

Next day, I arrived early to NMAAHC, hoping for better news. Standing outside in the cold January rain with a few other diehard visitors, I got the opportunity to chat with some employees standing guard outside. No one could tell me when the History Gallery would re-open again. Everyone politely advised me to check the NMAAHC website every evening for updates. I was explain my sad story to several employees: this is my third trip from Los Angeles to DC and I could not believe I would miss the History Gallery again. The NMAAHC employees were all empathetic to my plight. As a consolation, they would honor my tickets from the previous year and with those tickets, I could come back tomorrow if need be. Maybe the repairs would be complete but no one really knew. Could only stay hopeful. 

At least now I had all day to explore the top two floors of the NMAAHC. I could take my time. No rushing. The bottom subterranean floors are comprised of History Gallery. The top floor exhibit was about present day Black culture and second floor recent Black history. 

Some of the exhibits were so emotionally moving, so emotionally disturbing. By not rushing, I had time to absorb what I needed to absorb. There were moments, I had a hard time holding back my tears. 

The following examples are new things I learned and I cannot forget. 

1968 Olympics: Smith and Carlos
  1. Slavery abolished by the rest of the world. Everyone knew it was morally wrong. Yet Americans continued and made slavery a permanent status. Profits over humanity.
  2. Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The burning down of a successful Black town when Oklahoma became part of the USA.
  3. Lynchings.
  4. Emmett Till, senseless horrific brutal murder of a Black teenager. Triggering people like  Rosa Parker and Martin Luther King, Jr to speak up and the start of the Civil Rights movement. 
  5. Racial discrimination protest by Tommie Smith and John Carlos during 1968 Olympic Games. This display reminded me of the Colin Kaepernick protest and #BlackLivesMatter movement today. The same struggles continues.
  6. Present day Angola Penitentiary in Louisiana is in part equivalent to government sanctioned slavery.
  7. Immense resilience and strength shown by black people to overcome tyranny. 

A new admiration of black people. How, by their sheer strength and will power, were able forge ahead and developed a new sense of self, belonging and unique culture.

I needed a full day to see the top floors at the NMAAHC. What I thought at first was a misfortune, ended up being a blessing.

Later, that evening, on NMAAHC website, the History Gallery was going to open tomorrow! 

Things happens for a reason. Karma. I really needed 2 days to appreciate the displays at NMAAHC. 

The History Gallery is a must see.  Somber and humbling. 

A one way elevator takes you down several floors. The History Gallery experience depicts the beauty of Africa during the 14th century and its role in world trade. Then it goes onto to depict, in chronological order, how events evolved into present day Black culture in the United States. 

The dark truth of American history is presented with raw honesty. Overwhelming at times. The amount of hate and bigotry in our country created deep scars. 

The History Gallery revealed that we still hold onto the idea of slavery:

  1. Human ego’s willing acceptance of supremacy over another. 
  2. America’s low minimum wage = slave wages.
  3. American employers can work people so hard, it triggers anxiety and depression.
  4. We need reparation as a way of healing the scars.
  5. Passing laws helps, but not enough. We need to change the hearts and minds of Americans in order to achieve equality.

How to change the hearts and minds of Americans so that we can move forward together. 

Here some ideas: 

1. Teach empathy in school. Start early. In Denmark, one of the happiest countries in the world does this. 

2. Retrain the police to end the fear.

3. End Poverty with a Universal Basic Income as a form of reparation.

4. Get more resources to predominantly Black schools and neighborhoods. Education matters.

6. If you are more privileged than others, then reach out to help. Raise others to your level. Then you can both move forward together. 

7. Follow these two examples: Germany’s Never Again Movement for its role in WWII; South Africa’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission after the fall of apartheid. 

How to personally help: 

  1. Make a donation or volunteer. 
  2. Be a Mentor or Coach. 
  3. Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being. Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
  4. Accept the truth about our horrible past and make amends.

“The rest of you, get up. It’s time to go. What makes you human? The better world is still possible. Come fight with me”. Andrew Yang.

A shout out to Shaquetta and Briayna…. These special gals made me feel at home during my trip to DC. 

Grateful to Trevor Noah between the scenes – always enlightening. 

Link to get tickets to NMAAHC: https://nmaahc.si.edu/visit/passes 

Andrew Yang, The War On Normal People, 2018  

Part 3 – Why do Blacks Run from the Police?

Two common questions I hear from non black people are:

“If a black person is innocent why do they run from the police?” 

And this statement, “I am not responsible for what happened during slavery. That happened before my time.”

To answer the latter, Black oppression is still exists today in American society. Since we are part of American society, we all have to take responsibility for Black oppression. The mentality of slavery still exists.

Colin Kaepernick
E!News

Attention is brought to this problem with the Black Lives Matter Movement. Leaders like Colin Kaepernick should be admired for using his voice and platform to defend American values like freedom, equality and justice. He is making us conscious of the work that still needs to be done in this country. He should be revered but instead he is reprimanded. Punished by losing his job.

Why do Blacks run from the police? 

White people see the police as someone whose purpose is to protect them. This is not the same narrative for Blacks. Instead, there has been a long history of systemic racism and police brutally against Blacks. Blacks are tired of frequently being stopped, of being harassed and fearful of the outcome of such encounters which includes death. They run to increase their chances of survival. As Michael Dyson says in his book, Tears We Cannot Stop, the difference between white and black encounters with the police is, white people live to talk about it. A view point most white people have not even thought about. 

My son, while being driven home by his basketball coach who is black, was stopped by our local police for no reason. My son describes that the policeman was at the driver window asking some questions while having his hand on his gun. The whole episode really frighten him. I cannot imagine what it is like to have to live a life where this happens to you or to constantly have to be in fear of it happening to you: being stopped by the police for no reason. It can make life impossible.

These unprovoked encounters between the police and Blacks can potentially end up with innocent black men being charged with resisting arrest, police assault, leading to felony charges, prison, reduced employment potential, loss of voting rights, enabling a vicious cycle of poverty and resulting in innocent people driven to crime just to survive. All of this is preventable/unnecessary.

This explains why running to get away from law enforcement before there is any confrontation would be an attractive option. But white people think that this is an admission of guilt. 

Dyson explains in his book that during that “talk”, black parents have to have with their kids, they tell their kids to be afraid of the police. When encountering the police, they are told to lower their eyes, don’t upset the police. In addition. always keep your hands in view and calmly ask permission to do anything before you do it. Move slowly. Describe every move before you make any movement. And explain why you are doing it. Do not startle the police. 

As for the police, we know they have guns. But they don’t know if whom they stop has one. Years ago, I had a policeman as a roommate. He worked in daily fear, always hyper vigilant. Cops on the beat usually are on high alert, with immense tension depending on the neighborhood. Hence the police can be tipped into aggression. 

Once on my lunch hour, I had to go to a section of town that was a little shady (strip clubs, multiple warehouses, railway yard) to pick out some granite slabs for my kitchen renovation. When I was headed back to my office, the road I drove in on was barricaded. Nothing was around that I could see. Since there were no sidewalks, I thought I could just drive around it and be on my way. I needed to take this way back to work because the other direction was a long way around via a loop which was at least several miles more. And I was short on time. Suddenly a patrol car appears. Policeman gets out and proceeds to just shout in my face. His face was right in my face. Shouting things like where do you think you are going? Did you not see the barrier? You think you could get away why this? He had lost it. He was out of control. I could not see how I could ever be a threat to him – an Asian female about 100 pounds.

I needed to calm him down and get out of there. There were no witnesses. No help. I was shaking. I said to him, “Ok Officer, no worries. I was just trying to get back to work. I am a physician (with emphasis). I have patients waiting for me and I didn’t want to be late”. Back in the day, the police, firefighters, doctors and nurses had a bond together since we were all serving the public as first responders in potentially crisis situations. When they brought patients into the ER, we needed to count on each other, to help each other out when need be. I hoping this guy who was yelling in my face would remember that we are on the same team. Luckily, I was able to leave that situation in one piece, only a little scared and late for work. I was convinced that if I had been Black, he would have shot me. I could feel his out of control aggression. Unfortunately, when under direst like that, not easy to ask his name or think about looking his badge number.

The attack dog kills the submissive dog. This equation needs to change.

I know a 90 year old black man who grew up in Mississippi. He is an extremely positive person, with an aura of happiness and joy about him. He claims he has never had a negative encounter with the police. When asked how he has been able to achieve this, avoidance, attitude and luck are at the top of the list. But when he does encounter law enforcement, he behaves like a “police psychologist”. Somehow, he was able to make the police feel safe and calm. That sounds crazy but cops have their own problems just like anyone else. Sometimes you need to show them empathy and compassion. Although not easy to do when they are shouting at you with a gun in hand. Another possible explanation is he chooses not to remember the negatives.

Make them feel happy that they met you

Now, whenever I can, if I see a policeman, I go over to them with a friendly smile, introduce myself and say hello. “Hi officer how’s your day going? I know it’s not an easy job you have”. Many times they are alone and I will say to them, “I think you should patrol in pairs. Much safer to be with a partner, don’t you think? What about a K9 partner? They should give you a dog”. They almost always smile with that and say something like, “Don’t I wish”. Then to show respect, I say, “I really appreciate you and the job that you do for us. I know it is a difficult job. If there is anything I can do for you, let me know”. We can be of service to the police.  

Of course there are bad apples in every profession and they need to be weeded out and held accountable. Body cameras help. Change needs to start somewhere. 

Everyday, we need to set positive intentions with purpose and then go for it

It is good practice to have police know your name and your face and you know theirs in a friendly, relaxed and safe situation. 

Here are other things that I have done and recommend you try :

-Make a phone call to your local police station and ask about what community out reach programs they have. Then organize a neighborhood meeting with them.

-I have invited them to neighborhood gatherings to talk about crime in our area and recommendations for crime prevention in our community.

-Invite their K9 unit and let you meet their dogs (By the way, those dogs are impressive! When one came into my house, that dog immediately without pause sniffed and checked out everything. I think he could smell my cat in the back room or maybe that is the routine the dog does every time to protect his human partner). Really really beautiful animals.

-We had another meeting where they explained how the helicopter system work.

-Make a trip down to your local police station and bring some Girl Scout cookies or other treats as an offering.

-Ask them, “How can our community help them with their jobs?”.

It is good to know names and faces.

How will we know that racism is gone from American society? People like Colin will tell us. 

We must defend those who cannot defend themselves:

Thou Shalt Not Stand Idly By….Leviticus 19:16

Let’s make a difference. What can I do to help? 

Many Thanks to my patients who shared their stories with me.

Dyson, Michael Eric. Tears We Cannot Stop (pp. 14, 63, 170). St. Martin’s Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 

Part 2. My Family’s Experience with Racism

Near the turn of the 20th century, my grandfather immigrated to Canada. United States was not an option for him because of the Chinese Exclusion Act, formally known as Immigration Act of 1882-1943. The Chinese are the only race ever to be excluded from USA. Below is a cartoon from 1870 which depicts the “Chinese Wall” that America had created to stop out Chinese immigration. (Since 2016, history is repeating itself, with the President wanting to build another wall: the “Mexican Wall”).

Historic “Chinese Wall” with history repeating itself in 21st century with the “Mexican Wall”

Back then, to enter Canada, the Chinese had to pay a hefty head tax. To earn the amount equivalent to the head tax, it was like being an indentured servant. The labor was difficult and dangerous. In addition, the Chinese had to endure racial discrimination. But the differences between what my grandfather experienced and what the American slaves experienced were: 

  1. He came by choice to the “golden lands” of  the west 
  2. He knew his family. They were never sold.
  3. He never had his self-esteem beaten out of him 
  4. He never had his identity taken away from him
  5. He remained a free man

What my grandfather went thru does not even come near to the oppression of Blacks in America.

Part 1: An Immigrant’s Introduction to American Black Culture

-You can never walk in another person’s shoes- 

Part one of four parts – Arrival in the USA

April 1992, I moved from Canada to Los Angeles, landing in LAX during the week of the Rodney King Riot. 

Welcome to America. 

Welcome to America. 

Afraid, I stayed up all night glued to the television. The police had warned the public they might not respond to our calls of help because  they were, “preoccupied”. The sky was dark with smoke. There was anger, vandalism, arson. 

To better understand the etiology of all this, I read the book Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley. 

Another Jolt.

I did not know about the horrible injustices described in the book. But I empathized with the anger.

My first impression as an unbiased observer:  Blacks deserve reparation. They need to get some compensation for the hard and difficult work their ancestors did as slaves.

Robbing them of generational wealth. While white society benefited. Leaving many Blacks to struggle in poverty. Unsurmountable barriers against them when they try to move forward.

The Karma of landing in Los Angels that April forced me to pay attention to racial discrimination in America. It was shocked into my consciousness.

This was the start of my journey. What could I do to help solve this inequity?  Still after all these years, as much as I thought I knew, I really know very little. 

Try these Hot Cinnamon Rolls for the Holidays

These super fast home-baked organic cinnamon rolls are from Costco. When you and your friends/family are together for the holidays, this is one of the comfort foods. On top of being organic, they are also vegan/plant-based.

Prior to baking it in my toaster oven, I did not space the rolls out like it recommended on the label. Makes for a prettier presentation with the rolls touching side by side. In the box, there are 3 individual containers containing 5 rolls per container. Fifteen cinnamon rolls did not last long at our house. Label does say potential milk contamination. So many labels say this for (maybe) liability reasons. But if you have a serious allergy or intolerance, better not risk it as cross contamination is a real thing.

For the purist, this is a cheat. But a good cheat nonetheless. Not the healthiest but not the worst. Who has time to make this from scratch? Your time is better spend relaxing and enjoying your family and friends.

I love Costco and the affordable organic options they have. My biggest concern with Costco is the packaging overkill. The double packaging leads to excess garbage. I sent Costco an email about my concerns. If you agree with me, please take the time to send them an email too. Hope they take heed especially if many of us write in.

Finding the Perfect Gift

A Holiday Inspiration: Expanding Your Happiness

What is a gift? A gift can be a natural talent, an emotion like joy, an object or a service. By discovering your own gifts you are better able to give a gift to another. I was inspired to write this because of the holiday season and at the same time listening to Oprah and Deepak Expanding Your Happiness 21-day Meditation experience (I am a huge fan of of those two).

This meditation series introduces Oprah’s prayer. It is like a mantra to get her into her Flow Zone. This is what she said to herself prior to each one of her shows. “Use me God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself. How can I be of service? ”

Wow, that is powerful. Oprah’s mantra, along with mindfulness, has helped me find my gifts.

But what if you are stuck and can’t seem to be able to discover your gifts? They could be hidden behind all the mind chatter. You need to go to a deeper level of consciousness to discover them. Meditation, even 10-20 minutes everyday is a start to help you get rid of the useless chatter in your head that fogs up your concentration. Many great minds meditate for 2 hours or more every day! This training provides a background for your mind to be receptive to inspiration and knowing.

Your purpose and gift(s) will be something that flows so easily for you and it will feel grounded. It resonates within you and the universe. It will feel uplifting and a sense of belonging (to your authentic self). Hopefully, purpose won’t feel like work but bring you joy whenever you engage in it.

Of course, you can have more than one purpose. Or it can evolve over time. Gandhi’s method of finding purpose or gift is: the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. That is the secret to expanding your happiness. Give from your heart. 

When you are serving others, on the soul level, you are really giving yourself the perfect gift.

Whether you give service or something tangible, feel joyful when you give and bless the person to whom you give. Through out this coming new year, be conscious of opportunities to bringing joy to those you love and care about. Sometimes, you will get an aha moment and know that that will be “the gift to give”. Joy is always the perfect gift.

In this same meditation series, Deepak talks about Karma Yoga. The Karma path is whenever  you give in the spirit of freeing someone else from “care and want” and while at the same time your action brings you bliss. When choosing a gift let your ego go. It’s not about you but the recipient. Ask yourself, what would bring them joy?

Remember your soul expands when you help others. The joy of helping others is its own reward. Here are some examples gifts that bring joy: shoveling your neighbors walkway, picking up their newspaper or mail when they are away, baking them some goodies, walking their dog, offering help to an older person with groceries or taking them on an outing or doctor’s office or walking with them, giving a meal to a panhandler who you know who can’t find a job because no one will hire them, pay for the pizza lunch ordered by the guy beside you who is wearing his custodian uniform and likely is making minimum wage, volunteer at a local organization that you believe in, give a great big smile, and a tiny flower, etc (future blog on the “etc” part coming soon).

This holiday and throughout the year, always give in the spirit of bringing joy to someone else. The joy is the perfect gift. Make this the purpose of all your gifts. It does not have to be tangible.

As the recipient of any gift, never look disappointed. Always be grateful and appreciative no matter what. Someone thought about you. That’s the REAL gift. Remember it is the thought that counts. For those people who make the disappointed face, it is telling of their soul.

Deepak’s advice: Go beyond your ego and experience Unity consciousness where you perceive no division between you and anything you perceive.

My advice: finding the perfect gift starts with finding yourself.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

The above photo is from our office’s Charlie Brown Holiday Tree. Inside the pyramidal boxes are Rishi Organic Valerian Dream tea bags. The gift of sleep. That is powerful too 🙂

Olive Oil Secrets

World’s oldest Olive trees are found in Greece with estimated age between 2000-3000 years old. Drought tolerance, disease and fire resistance has contributed to their longevity.

We toured the The Governor Olive Mill on Corfu, Greece.  This particular farm grew the olive variety Lianolia, native to Corfu. It has the reputation of producing an exceptional quality extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) with unusually rich content of beneficial polyphenols. Harvesting begins in early October, usually within a 3-week window, and the pressing of the olives must been under 24 hours. A fast harvest and processing time is needed to preserve the nutrients. Green olives have more beneficial compounds than the more ripe black ones.

During our tour, we learned 4 important facts about olive oil.

The beneficial olive oil compounds are destroyed by Heat, Oxygen and Light. Hence quality olive oil must be made by Cold press (versus chemical extraction and warmer temperatures). Extra virgin is defined by lower Fatty Free Acid (FFA)) content. The better Olive oils have a low acidity. . EVOO should have acidity of < 0.8% acid (Less than 2% is called virgin, 2% to 3% acid content is called “pure”). The highest quality oils have < 0.3% and this fact should listed on the container. As olive oil begins to degrade, the FFA content increases. To reduce the exposure to oxygen, the milling should to happen quickly ie < 24 hours. Finally the bottle or cantainer must be completely opaque. You should not be able to see the oil at all, meaning zero light exposure. Those dark glass bottles would not be good enough, if you are a purist.

Olive oil should not be used for cooking as heat destroys the health benefits. Also olive oil has moderate smoke point of 350 F degrees. This means Olive oil will start to create smoke at around 350 F (range 325-374 depending on the quality of the oil). When an oil started to create smoke, carcinogens start to form. I recommend if you have to fry with olive oil, do it at low heat, quickly and use a cheaper brand because you are losing the healthful nutrients anyway. Hence, heating olive oil means you are just using it for flavoring and not the health benefits.

Best to consume olive oil raw, uncooked such as in salad or with bread or directly in a spoon like a medicine. If you do the latter you need to remove from your diet some saturated fats or carbohydrate calories to remain calories neutral ( 1 tbsp EVOO = 120 cal). Also once the container of EVOO has been open, best to consume it within 30-60 days. With exposure to oxygen, EVOO starts to degrade.

A good EVOO should have a fruity smell (not rancid). It should taste slightly spicy, bitter and fruity. It creates a tingle in your mouth and throat as you swallow it.

When purchasing high quality Extra Virgin olive oil look for certifications of California Olive Oil Council (COOC) or North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA). Much better if it is organic and the acidity is listed on the container. Make sure your container is opaque such as in a can or a non see through glass bottle. In my local groceries stores, I could not find any with EVOO in opaque containers. Trader Joe’s had an organic Tunisian Olive Oil no the acidity is listed but there is a date. That date says expiration is 2 years form canning. Not sure if canning happened here in USA or Tunisia. EVOO should be consumed within 12- 18 months of harvest. So I cannot vouch for the quality of TJ’s EVOO but I will email TJ and ask what their date means and update you when I find out. The Governor EVOO is rather pricey in the USA but there are high quality EVOO from California. I will be ordering those once my supply from Greece runs out.

Now that you know what to look for in a top notch Olive Oil, here is a list of the health claims from from the The Governor Olive Oil Mill, specifically for their EVOO. We were told that they alone can make these claims because it was their oil that was used in several medical studies. On the tour, the owner showed us a binder full of medical studies where they supplied the oil.

The Governor EVOO, “Our premium olive oil has been subjected to exacting scientific testing, and has been found to contain extraordinarily high levels of polyphenols, with a rare concentration of Oleocanthal. These compounds are at the heart of our extra virgin olive oil’s benefits”.

The Governor extra virgin olive oil has been awarded a prestigious health claim report from 3 universities: The National Kapodistrian University of Athens, in cooperation with UC Davis Olive Centre; Hunter College, in cooperation with the University of New York; and the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

Health benefits of EVOO based of daily intake of 20 gr (1.46 tbsp) of Olive oil containing >5mg of Hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol or its derivatives:

Biological Properties of Oleocanthal:

Action against Alzheimer’s disease, osteoarthritis, inhibition of the cycloxygenase enzyme COX-1 and COX-2 , anti-cancer activity, prevents skin aging, antibacterial action. Researchers estimate that the amount of oleocanthal in 50 ml (about 3.4 tablespoons) of extra virgin olive oil exerts effects similar to 10% of the adult ibuprofen dosage for pain relief.

Biological preterites of Oleacin:

Antioxidantive action, anti-ageing action, anti-Inflammatory action

Biological properties of aldehydic form of oleuropein aglycon has protective effects against Diabetes

Oleic acid, the most prominent fatty acid in olive oil, has been found to reduce inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein, and beneficial effects on genes linked to cancer (30).


Keep in mind that chronic, low-level inflammation is usually fairly mild, and it takes years or decades for it to do damage.

EVOO protects against heart disease via numerous mechanisms (16):

  • Reducing inflammation: Olive oil protects against inflammation, a key driver of heart disease
  • Reduces oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol: The oil protects LDL particles from oxidative damage, a key factor in the development of heart disease
  • Improves blood vessel health: Olive oil improves the function of the endothelium, which is the lining of the blood vessels
  • Helps manage blood clotting: Some studies suggest that olive oil can help prevent unwanted blood clotting, a key feature of heart attacks and strokes
  • lowers blood pressure: One study in patients with elevated blood pressure found that olive oil reduced blood pressure significantly and lowered the need for blood pressure medication by 48% (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29141571)

These benefits mirror the Mediterranean diet which is low in saturated fats and high in olive oil (mono-unsaturated fats)

With very low acidity (0.17%) – The Governor EVOO, Total phenolic compounds: 1.427 mg/Kg (Harvest 2018) – (CERTIFICATE OF ANALYSIS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST)

One tablespoon (13.5 grams) of olive oil contains the following:

  • Saturated fat: 14%
  • Monounsaturated fat: 73% (mostly oleic acid)
  • Vitamin E: 13% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin K: 7% of the DV

Given the biological effects of olive oil, it’s not surprising that people who consume the greatest amounts of it are significantly less likely to die from heart attacks and strokes.

In fact, the evidence is strong enough to recommend that people who have or are at a high risk of developing heart disease include plenty of extra virgin olive oil in their diets ( remember when you add calories to remove (esp the unhealthy ones) calories eslewhere) in your diet or you will gain weight.

Let every bite of food help you heal.

Final note: This blog is in no way meant to give any medical advice, diagnosis or treat.

References: http://thegovernor.gr

http://thegovernor.gr/images/pdf/pharmacological-and-biological-properties.pdf

Fabulous Greece

Our summer trip to Greece was fabulous. We saw the country from the comfort of a 7 day Princess Mediterranean and Aegean cruise ( I know purists will criticize a cruise is not really visiting Greece. But it is what it is). We started in Rome and ended in Athens. The ship was clean and beautifully new and up to date. The variety of delicious plant based foods was sufficient to satisfy my vegan appetite. Every restaurant, the service was top notch and did their best to accommodate my dietary needs. Kudos to Princess.

Our first stop was Salerno (close to Naples), Italy. We took a private tour of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Vesuvius and Naples. For 4 people, this was more economical than a group tour plus we got to see much more.

Next port was Kotor, Montenegro. In the morning, we kayaked, swam at the beach and biked back into town for lunch. Then we walked around the impressive ancient walled city of Kotor.

The next port of call was Corfu. Here we toured an Olive farm. This tour is worthy of its own blog (next month in November).

Then off to Crete where we snorkeled. It was refreshing but no comparison to Great Barrier, Belize or Hawaii. Nothing to see except a few small fish. The city of Chania was worth wandering around.

Then to island of Mykonos. Too much to do on your own for one day, so we took another tour that included the highlights of the town’s maze of blue and white buildings and across the water to the ancient ruins of Delos. Out tour guide told us some trivia that is too “cool” to forget. She said the building were painted white with lime, which is alkaline, hence making the buildings antimicrobial. This apparently helped to reduce the spread of the Plague. In addition, the white color reflects light to help keep homes cooler during hot summers. The Loulaki blue roofs because that color is abundant and inexpensive. The town was purposely built like a maze, so it allowed easy escapes for the locals from invading pirates. Invaders would get lost in the maze of all white. I can vouch for the latter!

Final destination was fabulous Athens. Friends had advised not to stay too long in Athens because of congestion, heat, and pollution. Due to time constraints and this advice, we only stayed in Athens for 2 nights but could have easily enjoyed a few more days .

We arrived in Athens in the early morning. Luckily we were able to check into our Airbnb early too. It was perfectly located on a side street off the main pedestrian walk way, Dionysiou Areopagitou Street. From there we could walk to plenty of cafes that were conducive to people watching. It is a very walkable city. Close by was a lively night market. The night view of the acropolis was spectacular.

Athens Night Market

I was impressed by how the Greeks we met were so easy going: life is to be enjoyed and worries pushed aside.

On our first day we took a Segway tour of Athens (Athens Segway Tours). During our introductory lesson, we were told number one rule is: do not hit any pedestrians! That was good to know especially as we zoomed through winding paths in the busy market place weaving in-between pedestrians. It was a blast.

The next day we took a comprehensive full day tour of Athens (Keys Tours was discounted by purchasing tickets from our bank’s travel site). It included a tour of the Acropolis and Acropolis Museum. Warnings: don’t leave the museum unless you have a ticket in hand – that includes going to book store or cafe. We did that and they absolutely would not let us back in. (Being part of a tour, our guide had on 1 ticket for our whole group. It was impossible for him to get more than one ticket). Also, wear pants, shorts or some very good underwear if you don’t want o expose yourself. The glass floors become glass ceilings for the floor below so if you look up, you can potentially see underwear, etc. Could have been better designed, such as installing reflective see thru glass facing the floor below. But maybe this is part of the whole experience(?).

Acropolis Museum Ceiling

As part of your full day tour with Keys Tours, we had lunch at the lovely Arcadia Restaurant. I was served a delicious plant based meal. Highly recommend this restaurant. It is within walking distance from the Acropolis Museum.

On another note, it was shocking to see how much the Greeks smoked. That was the only downside. Suppose you could bring a N99 face mask. But on average, Greeks people live longer than Americans despite the smoking. Some explanations for this are: they have fewer gun deaths, lower suicide rates, more doctors and hospital beds per capita, they are able to express their emotions better than we do hence less stress despite high unemployment and financial crisis.

Comical Store Window in Mykonos

Comments and Questions always Welcomed!

Medicare for All: Been There

With all this talk about Medicare for All going on, I thought now is a good time present this.

It is a myth that “Medicare For All (MFA)”, will cost more. If you do the math, it would actually cost less. Gone will be high paycheck deductions and employer contributions to private insurance companies. Any additional taxes will be much less.

I have practiced medicine both in Canada and the USA. Canada has a MFA health care system. Canadian doctors enjoy much more freedom and autonomy as to how they practice medicine compared to American doctors. 

The American patients that I see are presenting with much more serious levels of illness, and the amount of time I am given to see them is less. I witnessed how high out of pocket costs to consumers and reduced access to primary care are deterrents to getting care in a timely manner. The intense workload American doctors are expected to work under is overwhelming. 

The typical American response to MFA is that “it is a form of socialism and Canadians have prolonged waitlists for this and that.” Contrary to those beliefs, the large majority of Canadian doctors are actually in private practice and self-employed. Canadian patients are not limited to which doctor they can see. There are no HMO’s in Canada. Meanwhile, in the United States, our “waitlists” are our preauthorization, appealing of denials of care, denial of care and inability to afford the deductible and/or copay. No matter how much Americans fear a Canadian-like health care system, the bottom line is Canadians live longer and are happier people than Americans.

Private health insurance companies control financial health dollars and physicians are caught in the middle between insurer and patient. This results in burned out doctors and dissatisfied patients. 

The American healthcare system feels more “socialist” than the Canadian. Millions of Americans pay into an insurance “pool” of multiple private health insurance companies. This creates an inefficient system with high overhead costs and long non productive hours to handle the unnecessary bureaucracy and administrative chaos. Corporations dictate how doctors practice medicine and what patients can and cannot receive for medical care. The spin on “it’s socialism” comes from those who gain profit from the status quo. Large corporate entities have created fear in patients and doctors that a single payer system would be catastrophic.

But data shows Medicare is our most efficient system. Americans with government plans are more satisfied than those with private plans. If anything, private health insurance companies delay care by prerequisite amounts of paperwork and creating disincentives that deter people from getting care.

Canadians spend 50% of what Americans pay for health insurance.  If we implemented a similar single payer system, the amount we would save per year would be about 1.5 trillion dollars. We are paying double and NOT covering 44 million people.

MFA has transparency. The reimbursement fees and costs are public information. The game of hidden costs can be abolished. 

Employer savings and a healthier workforce will make us more competitive in the international market. Expanding Medicare will also help it stay solvent for our current seniors and for future generations. With MFA, the substantial savings are obvious.  Yet there continues to be powerful rhetoric against the cost savings.
Let MFA compete with private, for-profit insurance companies. Let the consumers decide which option is best for them. No one will be forced to use a single payer plan, but it gives all of us more choices. Let the market place decide. Let doctors be independent and work for our patients and not private corporations. Our economy will gradually absorb the change. Change is our only constant.

References

  1. Berg, S. (2019, Jan 24). Physician burnout: Which medical specialties feel the most stress. Retrieved from https://www.ama-assn.org/practice-management/physician-health/physician-burnout-which-medical-specialties-feel-most-stress?&amp;utm_source=BulletinHealthCare&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=012519&amp
  2. Gordon, S.F. (2018, Oct 25). Why Canada’s Docs Never Burn Out. Retrieved from https://opmed.doximity.com/articles/why-canada-s-docs-never-burn-out
  3. * This is evolving, something phone are reminebured by some insurance companies but not consistently 

(3)  Brody, B. Is Medicare Cost Effective? (2003, Jun13). Retrieved from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/about/Crossroads/06_13_03.html

(4)  Archer, D. (2017, Feb 8). America’s Public Medicare Program Costs Less and Is More Efficient Than Private Health Insurance. Retrieved from https://scholars.org/brief/americas-public-medicare-program-costs-less-and-more-efficient-private-health-insurance

(5) Riffkin, R. (2105, Nov 6). Americans With Government Health Plans Most Satisfied. Retrieved from https://news.gallup.com/poll/186527/americans-government-health-plans-satisfied.aspx

(6)  Torrey, B.B. and Haub, C. (2004, Nov). Why Do Canadians Outlive Americans? Retrieved from https://www.prb.org/whydocanadiansoutliveamericans/

(7)  Gonzales, S. and Sawyer, B. (2017, May, 22). How does U.S. life expectancy compare to other countries? Retrieved from https://www.healthsystemtracker.org/chart-collection/u-s-life-expectancy-compare-countries/#item-start

(8) World Happiness Report (2019). Retrieved from https://s3.amazonaws.com/happiness-report/2019/WHR19.pdf

(9) Farley, R. (2018, Aug 10). The Cost of ‘Medicare-for-All”. Retrieved from https://www.factcheck.org/2018/08/the-cost-of-medicare-for-all/

(10)  Remen, R.N. (2001, Jan). Recapturing the soul of medicine Physicians need to reclaim meaning in their working lives. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1071213/

Healthy Blender-Free Smoothie Recipe

This is a great smoothie. Easy to make. Healthy ingredients. Sugar free. Tasty. I make it the night before, leave in fridge overnight and grab it on my way out the door in the morning. It will be my lunch. All of the ingredients are from either Costco or Amazon.

The amount of each ingredient is variable. How much you put in will be dependent on your current diet, supplements and health status. Remember to treat food as medicine. The right balance both in ingredients and amounts (calories) is important. You want to get the correct nutrients by eating foods that will prevent disease and the right amounts to prevent obesity. You don’t overdose on your medicines, so you don’t overdose on your food.

With all of these ingredients, you can check the packaging for serving sizes and nutrients.

Here is how I make mine. I start with a pinch of mushroom powder and Dulse seaweed. Then a teaspoon of beet powder. Then scoop of protein powder.

Add one frozen fruit smoothie pack, few spoons non dairy yogurt, some green drink and fill up the rest of my smoothie container with a non dairy milk (I have been avoiding the organic almond milk from Costco because it lacks calcium and protein). Shake and refrigerate.

You will need a thermo container that comes with a shaker ball. This is a must because the protein powder clumps and the shaker ball breaks it up.

Other options to add instead of fruit or green drink.

To wash my smoothie container, I put in some hot water and dish soap then shake it around. If the water is very hot be very careful when opening the top. It can be under pressure and spray all over. Need to open it gently as possible as far away from anyone and yourself as you can. Release the pressure first before you continue to open.
Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Final note: This blog is in no way meant to give any medical advice, diagnosis or treat.

Mother Earth has Given Us So Much. It is Time to Take Care of Her

We have taken so much from Mother Earth. She has always provided and nurtured us. She has sustained us. It is time we take care of her.

We have used her resources. Her abundance has always been there for us. We took it for granted. We wasted and destroyed. It has caught up with us.

For example, every piece of plastic that I have ever used is likely somewhere still on the Earth. The amount garbage that we have produced has reached a critical threshold. But with our ingenuity and innovation, we can solve this.

40 Kilograms of plastic in this whales stomach. (The Leaders Online)

We need to get better at recycling, reusing, and buying products made from recycled and or compostable materials. For the most impact, let’s focus on the most common single use products found in the ocean.

National Ocean Service

The worse offenders are cigarette butts, bottle caps, straws, cups and plates, single use plastic bags, food wrappers, and beverage bottles.

Here is how we can easily reduce the use of these products:

  • Cigarette butts – the best solution is DO NOT SMOKE. But if you must, consider rolling your own or purchase brands without filters. The filter don’t provide any benefit.
  • Bottle caps – re-attach them to their original bottles and recycle them together. Avoid using plastic bottles. Bring the tops back to recycle centers.
  • Drinking straws- Many options for reusable straws (a subject of a previous blog) or switch to 100% compostable straws made from materials like cornstarch, wheat, avocado seeds, paper, bamboo, etc.
  • Cups and plates – use non plastic products that are 100% compostable made of same material as the straws above or better yet reusable dishes.
  • Single use bags – Bring your own reusable bags including those in which you put produce. Ask your grocer to use compostable bags.
  • Food wrappers – use beeswax food wraps, compostable wrappers, buy products in bulk.
  • Beverage bottles – use metal, glass or reuse your plastic one. See the links below as to how some communities are making use of the ones we already have on the planet… So innovative!

Plastic Bricks
Plastic Roads

We need to create a thriving market for products made from recycled or compostable materials. There are products like clothes, shoes, rugs, household products, feminine sanitary items, etc made from recycled or compostable materials. When ever we can, we should buy these types of products. This will make recycling financially sustainable.

We can all participate locally. Bring our own bags, useable containers, straws etc. The worse plastic offenders are starting to be banned at the municipal level. You can engage in local politics to ensure this happens in your community.

Some other Earth friendly solutions: Put solar panels in parking lots. It keeps cars cool while generating carbon free electricity.

Plant and also protect as many trees as you can.

Human over population is the core cause. More people more garbage.

To be Green is to be Cool.

Green Tea Instant Oatmeal

Thaw out berries in a covered glass container in fridge. Keeps for a few days.

Make a cup green tea with hot water. Steep for 3-4 minutes.

Put Oatmeal in a bowl. Add the hot green tea. The amount of tea you use will be determined by how thick you like your oatmeal.

Top with Berries.

Optional : Raw honey, Non Dairy Yogurt. You can use flavored oatmeal like cinnamon or apple, flax, etc

How to make “decaf” Tea

Add your tea bag to hot water. Wait 30 seconds. Pour that water out and add fresh hot water to bag. Steep for another 3 and half minutes.

When tea is steeped for more than 4 minutes total, the oxalates start to leach out. Oxalates are associated with renal stones.

Now I don’t have any proof of any of this. I learned this at a nutritional seminar years ago.

If anyone has the ability to test for caffeine or oxalates, let me know if the above formulas hold true.

How Much Protein Do You Really Need?

Fact or Myth? “There is not enough protein in a vegan diet.

Let’s analyze this comment by doing some calculations on a vegan/plant based diet.

To get a complete protein with all your essential amino acids when eating only a plant based diet, it is best you eat two of the three of the following food groups every day :

#1 Nuts

#2 Whole grains

#3 Legumes

The one nutrient that is impossible to get enough of is Vitamin B12. So you have to supplement with Methylcobalamin supplement. This is available at Costco!

How to calculate your daily Protein needs:

  1. You need to know your ideal body weight. NOT your actual weight unless you are one of the fortunate few whose weight is between a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 19-24.9. Majority of Americans have a BMI is 25 or more (Asians that number starts at 23 or more). A BMI of >25 is in the overweight or obese categories. This would not be considered your ideal body weight. To calculate your ideal body weight use a BMI chart to figure this out. Below is a BMI chart I screen shot from internet (apologies for blurriness but you can get a better view from this link https://www.hmrprogram.com/resources/getting-started/bmi-chart ).
  2. Find your height by looking in the first column- I circled 5’4″. After you find that on chart, go across to your weight. If it is not in the Green zone, then you need to calculate your ideal weight. Go back to Green zone for you height level. Pick any of the weight from Green zone for your height. Big boned folks pick BMI of 24. Average person pick 23. For example for someone who is 5’4″ and a BMI of 21. That persons ideal body weight is 122 lbs. For BMI of 23, that 5’4″person’s ideal body weight would be 134 lbs.
  3. This will be the weight you use to calculate your daily protein needs.
BMI chart

3. Once you know your ideal body weight, you will need to multiply it by the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of protein per pound of ideal body weight. So for average adult that factor would be 0. 36.

RDA is Recommended Daily Allowance

The chart below gives you some estimations.

Estimaton of RDA of Protein based on weight in pounds for Average Adults

Back to our example. Ideal body weight 122 lbs X 0.36 = 44 gm of protein per day is the RDA. Using the weight of 134 lbs ->48 gm

4. Here is a chart of foods and the amount of protein that it contains.

Sample diet for our 5’4″ example person who needs 44gm pf protein per day.

As you can see a Vegan Diet supplies plenty of protein.

Our example person needed 44 gm of protein a day and the sample diet supplied 55-72 gm of protein per day.

Of course if you are a bigger person, you portion sizes would be larger and hence protein amounts increases accordingly. Plus for athletes, there are many varieties of protein powders and drinks to meet increase protein needs.

So there we have it. “There is not enough protein in a vegan diet.IS A MYTH

Final note: This blog is in no way meant to give any medical advice, diagnosis or treat. Everyone’s situation is different.

Vegan Shaming :(

I recently hosted a 12 person dinner party with the following Vegan Menu:

Appetizers– Tomato salsa, guacamole, organic blue corn chips, olives, crackers w vegan cream cheese topped with Seaweed Roe and Habanero salsa, grapes strawberries, popcorn, dark chocolate almonds

Main Dish – Homemade vegan burgers with these side dishes: Eggplant Moju, Pumpkin Curry and Kale-coconut Sambol

Dessert -Vegan Strawberry chocolate cake (Whole Foods) w coconut ice cream

So shocked to be subjected to these negative comments from some of the guests:

  1. It’s not enough protein for me
  2. I can’t live without my red meat
  3. I love red meat
  4. Who cares about getting Alzheimer, I will be comfortable in a nursing home
  5. Cows and global warming it’s fake news
  6. I have fatigue when I do not eat meat
  7. Too many pesticides in vegetables. Organic is fake
  8. No human studies to show pesticides, GMO are bad for us. So what if bad for animals
  9. Something was wrong with me (the host) bc I only ate plants

Wow. One person starts a negative comment and then others feel they have permission to join in. Herd mentality. Next thing you know everyone is making fun of people who eat a plant based diet. I felt like everyone was ganging up on me, the person who spent hours preparing a homemade meal. Rude. Is this what it is like in the school yard when a kid who is different gets bullied? Have people lost their sense of grace? Sense of appreciation? What was their intention? Lucky, I am grounded enough not to let this phase me.

I am not sure how these people were brought up, but I teach my kids this: Always be a great guest, no matter how much you disagree with something or someone. Find something positive to say. Be grateful that you were invited and thankful for friendship. Appreciate the work your host put into the dinner.  Go out of your comfort zone and try something new and different. Practice giving positive compliments. If you don’t, you might not have another chance because likely you will not be invited back.

It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green…Kermit

“Roe” from Ikea and so are the quality of these directions 😉

Step by step guide for Successful Dinner Party for 8-12 people

This blog is a step by step guide to hosting a successful 4 hour dinner party.

  • Make everyone feel special by considering your guests’ dietary needs like food allergies, intolerances, pescatarian, vegetarian, vegan, Kosher, lactose free, gluten free, etc. You can ask this question in the invitation. You want to be inclusive of everyone’s needs at your party. Something for everyone. People gave up their time to come, so make it worth their while 🙂
  • Request an RSVP at least 1 week before the event so you can plan things properly. Always plan for an extra guest or 2.

Some preliminaries to set your foundation for success:

  • Timing is important. You want all your hot foods to be ready at the same time. Slow cookers, rice cookers, and chafing pans are very useful to keep food warm until ready to serve. The food for dinner needs to be ready all at the same time. Write down a protocol with a timeline. What you are going to do and when. It starts days before and the day of the event. Included on this list should be cleaning up your place before the party.
  • You can always get hired help to assist in clean up at beginning and end, cook and serve. Local High School may have students willing to help especially those who have studied culinary arts or worked in a restaurant.

As the host, make sure everyone is engaging in the activities or conversation.

Menu wise, I always avoid Dairy (with some exceptions ) and sugar (honey is OK). Try to keep local and seasonal and organic.

Sample Menu: Appetizers, Drinks, Main Meal, Desserts

Standard Appetizers: Purchase these 2-4 days before event or if you are really busy most groceries stores deliver.

  • Comte Cheese from French Alps made from Raw milk and fermented 8-36 months, Brie, Vegan Cashew and or coconut milk cheese. Serve with Crackers of your choice.
  • Smoked Wild Salmon decorated with thin Lemon slices, Capers and or Dill. Serve with Crackers of your choice.
cheese serving tray
  • Fresh finger fruits like grapes , strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and or blackberries
  • Olives or Olive Tapenade. Serve with Crackers of your choice.
  • Guacamole or Salsa served with Corn Chips

Drinks:

  • Red and White wine. My general rule- no red wine drinking near carpet. In a small group people generally respect this
  • Beer(s)
  • Kombucha is very popular these days
  • Iced tea
  • Water, plain and carbonated, lemon and or lime slices
  • Coffee and Teas
  • No soda, no juice

Make sure you have lots of ice on hand.

Main Dish :

Stews can be made 2-3 days before and heated up on stove or microwave and kept warm in chafing dish. Slow cookers are also handy for stews. Good to do this so you can focus on your guests during party. On the day of party, if serving rice, use a rice cooker. Set this up the night before. You can set timer so it can be ready when dinner starts or kept warm until you are ready to serve it. Some pastas can be ready in 5-10minutes. I boil some water in electric kettle and some on stove. Then combined the 2. This saves time.

Having your party catered in another option or bring in a chef. But that really adds to the cost. I have not done well with potlucks. The flavors of dishes that people bring don’t always complement each other and some people can bring some very unhealthy foods eg. Deep fried foods, processed foods, meaning they buy them because they don’t cook to have time to cook.

Easy Vegan main dish: examples Baked Tofu Bowl , Spaghetti or Fusilli with garlic marinara sauce or capellini with olive oil, chopped garlic, olives, and fresh basil (pescatarian can add chopped anchovies). I have posted other dishes on my blog, plus more to come in future. You can even have as an activity, all your guess make their own food, like rolling sushi or spring rolls. It is rather a fun thing to do together.

Toppings:

Pickled Beets*, Kim Chee and or Pickled Asian greens/veggies ( fermented food benefits) , Dulse dried Seaweed, Nutritional Yeast (latter is a vegan substitute for Parmesan Cheese).

Sides:

  • Spinach with onions can be prepared night before, then heated up and kept warm in a Chafing pan
  • Roasted Cauliflower
  • Make a salad dressing night before. Buy pre-washed organic baby kale or your favorite greens. Some come as mixes with carrots, cabbage etc. Open when ready to serve and mix with dressing. You should own a large wood salad bowl for tossing (Ikea has these).

Dessert:

Prepare 1-2 days before.

Examples

  • Chocolate Pudding
  • Vegan ice cream or sorbet topped with fresh berries, sprinkle with liqueur (optional). Top with a tablespoon of almond or coconut yogurt. Then decorate with a mint leaf and or dark chocolate shaving. Skip the ice cream/sorbet if you want to keep sugar content down.
  • Offer coffee and tea (black and herbal)

Teach the practice of Hara Hachi Bu

The Japanese phrase, Hara Hachi Bu, means eat until you are 80% full. Higher caloric intake and overeating is common in USA. The Okinawans have a custom of self-imposed calorie restriction and regularly consume only 1,800 to 1,900 calories a day. This is a few hundred calories less than what the average American consumes. This is likely a major contributor to Okinawans remarkable health and long life spans.

*Beets contain Nitrates, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It has heart, BP, cognitive and endurance benefits https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/are-nitrates-and-nitrites-harmful#section

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below

Baked Tofu Bowl as Main Dish

Topped with Kim Chi and Asian Pickled Greens, Sweet Potatoes, Spinach

This recipe is for the Baked Tofu. The bowl is filled with Brown Rice, then topped with Seasoned Tommy’s Sweet Potatoes from Costco, Spinach, Pickled Veggies, Baked Tofu recipe is below. To keep it low carb, you can skip the rice and use a bed of your favorite lettuce.

Set Oven for 400 degrees.

One package of Organic Extra Firm Tofu (14oz). Do not buy the super extra firm because it is so hard, it does not absorb the marinate, hence lacks flavor.

Drain fluid off Tofu. While still in box, cut Tofu into 1/2 x 2 inch pieces.

Cut Tofu in the box

Place into a medium glass dish and pour in enough marinate to cover the tofu pieces. Examples of marinates are Teriyaki, Curry or Gyoza dipping sauce. Cover. Marinate at least 2 hours to over night in refrigerator.

Grease a baking sheet with coconut oil. Spread out the Tofu pieces evenly onto sheet.

Bake at @ 400 degrees 15mins x 2 -> At 15min mark, flip tofu over and continue to bake for another 15mins. Although I don’t bother with flipping. It seems to turn out ok. You could use a metal rack to have the underside bake. I prefer to use Pure Convection setting on my oven. You get crispier results. For my oven, if I am using convection, I lower the temp by 25 degrees and reduce time by 10%. You need to know your oven…bon appétit.

Let me know how yours turn out in the comments.

Iodine in our Diets and Cancer Risk

Unfortunately, most Americans are not getting enough Iodine. It is important to get the correct amount because it affects your thyroid function therefore your metabolism. Plus Iodine may help reduce the risk of our most frequent cancers: breast and prostate. (1)

Prior to 1920’s, around the Great Lakes, Appalachians and Northwest were known as the “goiter belt.” People had significant iodine deficient. 30-40% of the population had goiters as a result. (2) This decreased significantly when iodine was added to table salt.

Thereafter, Americans are getting most of their dietary iodine from table salt. 1/4 teaspoon of iodized table salt contains about 71 mcg iodine along with 575mg of sodium. We now tell people to reduce/avoid salt for health reasons.(4) Plus if your salt has been sitting around, the iodine added to your salt has an expiration date of 5 years from manufacturing date.

The amount of iodine you need each day depends on your age and health circumstance. Average Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) amounts are listed below in micrograms (mcg). (3)

Life StageRecommended Amount
Birth to 6 months110 mcg
Infants 7-12 months130 mcg
Children 1-8 years90 mcg
Children 9-13 years120 mcg
Teens 14-18 years150 mcg
Adults150 mcg
Pregnant teens and women220 mcg
Breastfeeding teens and women290 mcg

Besides iodized table salt, other sources of Iodine in diet are: (mcg of iodine)(5)(6)(7)

  • Iodized salt: 1/4 tsp 71mcg
  • Kelp, 1/4 cup wet: 415 mcg or more. Amount is highly variable
  • Seaweed, dried, 1 ounce: up to 18,000 mcg. Amount is highly variable
  • Oysters (per 100gms): 160mcg
  • Canned salmon (per 100gms): 60mcg
  • Bread (except organic) (per 100gms): 46 mcg
  • Haddock, 3 ounces: 104-145 mcg
  • Cod, 3 ounces: 99 mcg
  • Shrimp, 3 ounces: 21-37 mcg
  • Processed fish sticks: 17 mcg per piece
  • Tuna, canned, 3 ounces: 17 mcg
  • Milk, 1 cup: 55-60 mcg
  • Cottage cheese, 1/2 cup: 25-75 mcg
  • Egg, 1 large: 18-29 mcg
  • Turkey breast, cooked, 3 ounces: 34 mcg
  • Ground beef, cooked, 3 ounces: 8 mcg

Other sources

  • Vitamins (prenatal, labelled content per daily serving): 75–200 μg4
  • Amiodarone (per 200 mg): 75,000 μg
  • Iodinated contrast (free iodine content, per CT scan): 13,500 μg
  • Topical iodine (povidone iodine): variable, usually 1–5%
  • Expectorants, mouthwashes, vaginal douches: variable
  • Saturated solution of potassium iodide (per drop): 50,000 μg

Not getting enough Iodine can be related to cancer. But so can too much. The Japanese have less breast and prostate cancer than Americans. (8) A possible explanation is that they consume a lot foods originating from the ocean. They consume up 10-100 times more iodine in their diet than Americans. (9)(10) Now I am not saying we should eat that much. The upper limits of Iodine ingestion is maximum 1,100 mcg of iodine per day. (3)

When you consume too little or too much, it likely will cause thyroid dysfunction and poorer health outcomes. How your thyroid is going to react is not predictable. There have been some cases of thyroid cancer in Japanese who consume too much iodine. (11)

The upper limits for iodine by age and health circumstance are listed below. These levels do not apply to people who are taking iodine for medical reasons and or under the care of a doctor.

Life StageUpper Limit
Birth to 12 months:Not established
Children 1-3 years:200 mcg
Children 4-8 years:300 mcg
Children 9-13 years:600 mcg
Teens 14-18 years:900 mcg
Adults:1,100 mcg

When consuming natural forms of iodine from diet, the amount consumed can’t be exact because nature is not exact. For example, Dulse flakes, a 3 gram (one tablespoon) serving equals 330% RDA, meaning a one teaspoon amount is all you should take per day. Hard to know how much exposure you get to heavy metals when eating things from the sea. Consuming it with cilantro and garlic may reduce the absorption of some of these heavy metals.

How your thyroid reacts to too much iodine is not predictable. Getting the Recommended Daily Amount is important.

(1) Pearce, E.N. (2015, Winter). Is Iodine Deficiency reemerging in the United States? Retrieved from https://journals.aace.com/doi/pdf/10.4158/EP14472.CO

(2) Meletis, C.D. and Zabriskie, N. (2007, Jun 29). Iodine, a Critically Overlooked Nutrient. Retrieved from https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/act.2007.13309?journalCode=act

(3) NIH, (2016, Feb 17). https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iodine-Consumer/

(4) Leonard, J. (2018, Jul 30). Does pink Himalayan salt have any health benefits? Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/315081.php

(5) Leung, A.M. and Braverman, L.E. (2013, Dec 17). Consequences of excess iodine. Retrieved from http:// https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3976240/

(6)Diet Health, Inc. Retrieved from https://www.diet.com/g/iodine

(7)Food Standards. (2019). Retrieved from http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/nutrition/iodinefood/Pages/default.aspx

(8) Kargar, S. and Shiryazdi, S.M. et al. (2017). Urinary Iodine Concentrations in Cancer Patients. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5464505/

(9)Rappaport, J. (2017, Jan 13). Changes in Dietary Iodine Explains Increasing Incidence of Breast Cancer with Distant Involvement in Young Women. Retrieved from http://www.jcancer.org/v08p0174.htm

(10) Zava, T.T. and Zava, D.T. (2011, Oct 5). Assessment of Japanese iodine intake based on seaweed consumption in Japan: A literature-based analysis. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3204293/

(11) Michikawa, T. et al. (2012, May). Seaweed consumption and the risk of thyroid cancer in women: the Japan Public Health Center-based Prospective Study. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22414981

American Thyroid Association. (2013, Jun 5). ATA Statement on the Potential Risks of Excess Iodine Ingestion and Exposure. Retrieved from https://www.thyroid.org/ata-statement-on-the-potential-risks-of-excess-iodine-ingestion-and-exposure/

https://www.veggiechallenge.com/concerns/vegetarians-veganssalt-high-blood-pressure-iodine-and-soy/

Roasted Cauliflower with Vegan Aioli Dip

Ingredients:

One head of cauliflower cut into floret pieces, or buy ready cut

olive oil spray

salt and pepper

1/2 cup Trader Joe’s Vegan Spread and dressing

1 tsp minced garlic

Sriracha Sauce optional

Prep:

Spray a baking sheet pan with olive oil. Put the florets in pan, spreading them out. Spray the Florets with olive oil.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake at 425 deg x 25-30 mins. Until tips are golden brown. I use pure convention, adjusting the time and temperature accord to your oven.

Meanwhile to make the dipping sauce, mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl.

Serve while still warm. Use as appetizer or side dish.

Honey Tofu Chocolate Pudding

Does not require any cooking

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

5 tbsp raw honey,

1/4 tsp salt.

One squeeze of lemon,

1/2 cup Cacao powder

14 oz soft Tofu- put into a food processor or blender 

Coconut oil 2 tsp

Coconut milk  3-6 tbsp

Vanilla 1 -2 tsp

18 Raspberries and Fresh Mint leaves to decorate

Prep:

Blend all the ingredients (except Raspberries and Mint) until smooth, divide up to fill  6 ramekins. Cool in refrigerator at least 30 mins or cover tightly store overnight.

Top w fresh berries and garnish w fresh mint before serving.

Sauté Spinach and Onions

Side dish for 6

Ingredients:

1 small or 1/2 large onion, chopped

1-2 tsp garlic, chopped

1 tsp ginger, grated

2 tbsp Avocado oil

1 – 16 oz bag of frozen organic spinach

1/2 cup Vegetable broth or 1 tsp Vegan Bouillon

Squeeze of lemon or sprinkle of apple cider vinegar

Salt and Pepper

Prep:

Heat oil in a wok. Add onions, garlic, ginger, sauté over medium heat, until onions look clear.

Add bag of spinach, broth, continue to stir until liquid evaporates. Add rest of ingredients

You have option to add 1/2 cup mushrooms in with the onions

Serve on top of brown rice, noodles or pasta along side a protein like grilled Tofu or Vegan Chili.

On Bringing Flight Attendants Gifts

It is a very tough job being a flight attendant. They really do work hard with very little thanks or appreciation. Some passenger behave like they are entitled to the service (and this behavior is in public…wonder home they behave at home..).

I recommend we all bring them something. Everyone loves a gift. Luggage limitations means it has to be physically small in size.

I like to gift this natural spray hand sanitizer from Trader Joe’s. If they don’t always in stock, you can always make one too (click on Homemade Hand Sanitizer). The aromatherapy of the essential oils can change the mood of the air plane cabin. Quite often people will say what is that? It smells wonderful.

I like the spray sanitizer over the gels bc I can use the spray to sanitize my seating area too. The screen, tray, arm rest and seat belt. The natural wet wipe that I use to wipe down is typically gray after wiping everything. These areas never get wiped clean so I am doing the airlines a favor.

***********

The basic essentials oils that I usually mix are:

  • Citrus for cheering things up – favorites are tangerine, lemon, grapefruit. Also consider sweet orange, bergamot.
  • Peppermint to energize.
  • Lavender to calm.

At the time of writing, the TJ hand sanitizer costs $1.99.

I have brought extra viral face masks with me on flights and offered it to coughing people with runny noses around me, so that they don’t make me or anyone else sick. Amazing how many people will say, “I am not sick, it is just allergies”. I don’t get it, Denial, selfish or what? In those situations, I put on the mask. They do reduce respiratory germ transmission.

If you have any suggestions for gifts, please write it in the comments. I avoid candy, cookies, etc bc they are unhealthy empty calories. Except maybe dark chocolates. Although that can be difficult in hotter climates, as chocolate tends to melt. Make sure any food you give is well wrapped and sealed.

Other gift suggestions: Luggage tags that represent where you are from or tell a story.

Follow up to this gift giving business. I usually bring 3 gifts per flight. I wish I could bring more but only so much one can bring on a carry on. So far three gifts seems to cover the number of flight attendants on my part of the plane. The three with whom I interact with anyway.

My recent flight from Athens to JFK, one of the flight attendants gave me a gift back. A bottle of wine. He said one good deed deserves another. How sweet. Exactly the joy that I want to spread. It works folks.

Using Reusable Straws

Headline: Los Angeles County to ban Plastic Straws. About time. These images of plastic straws polluting our earth’s water ways and hurting wild life are disturbing.

Since I last wrote about using metal reusable straws, I discovered silicone and bamboo straws. Straws are useful if you have sensitive teeth, want to keep your teeth from staining, have orthodontic work or unable to drink from a cup bc of health reasons. I like the silicone ones the best due to their “flexibility” but bamboo straws are 100% natural and biodegradable. The hole in the bamboo straw is smaller than silicone, so not useful for thick smoothies. The metal straws can feel harsh against your teeth.

I needed the longer the 11 inch silicone straw for my 20 oz stainless steel thermo container.

After use, the silicone straw tucks nicely into my container for storage until I get home. Otherwise a wet straw is a messy thing to handle. Checklist when purchasing a container:

  • dishwasher safe for lazy cleaning
  • wide mouth so you can add powders and or pour smoothie in it easily and also easy cleaning
  • an attached smaller lid so you won’t lose it.
  • the part that touches your mouth is completely covered by the lid to avoid contamination and dirt getting on it
  • if going to use in car, make sure not so wide that it will not fit into a cup holder
  • avoid plastic. BPA and BPS (the BPA substitute) are both bad for you
  • stainless steel and glass are the most neutral. The silicone covered glass is less breakable
  • Double thickness containers insulate better so drinks can be kept either hot or cold longer. Plus the neutral temperature of the exterior of the container makes it more comfortable to hold onto

How to fold your silicone straw into your container when finished

The silicone ones have the advantage of being folded into a small container like a pill bottle or extra orthodontic retainer container. This makes it much easier to carrier around with you.

To clean these straws: You can do by hand or put the silicone ones in the dishwasher. Since these silicone ones are larger, they do not fall threw the holes in the cutlery rack. I would not recommend putting the bamboo ones in dishwasher bc they might splinter and crack. The straws almost always come with a brush too.

Hand washing: Soak for minute or two in soapy water, make sure some of water gets into the center of straw. Wiggle it around a bit. Clean inside with brush. Rinse. Dry on a rack that drains.

My vegan lunch smoothie recipe to be posted soon.

Please leave me any comments or questions. I look forward to them!

Biodegradable Dental Floss

For proper oral hygiene, you need to floss daily. Ever wonder what happens to the plastic dental floss like Glide? I can just imagine it gets into our Oceans, resulting in choking and or strangling of marine life.

Now there are other options. Biodegradable silk or bamboo floss. They are a little thicker than Glide so it your teeth are tight, it could takes some time to get use to it. But it works. With the extra thickness, it removes more food particles per swipe! Give it a try. You help the planet, the planet helps you. Karma.

I bought these on Amazon.

Note: If you have short roots, I would not recommend. If you must use a traditional plastic product, and the floss remains in good shape after use, you can rinse the floss and let it dry and re use it again and again. 🙂

Valentine Almond Cookies

This is a recipe from the Island of Malta. You can shape them into Hearts and decorate with a Maraschino Cherry (Whole Foods has sans food coloring). These cookies have 2 versions: vegan and traditional with egg whites.

Bake @ 400F for 8-10 mins. Makes 84 x 2inch round cookies

Ingredients:

4 cups ground almonds

1.5 cups oat bran

2 cups sugar

5 egg whites (or egg substitute)

2 Tbsp Almond Essence

Pinch of salt

Sliced Almonds or Maraschino Cherries, cut cherries in half, let it drain, set aside.

Edible Premium Wafer Paper 8.25″ x 11.75″ Pkg of 20 for Cake or Food Decorating (I bought these on Amazon) – cut these into circles or hearts for Valentines one sheet should give you 12 circles (about 2 inch or so diameter) or 4 hearts

Mix almonds and bran in a large bowl and set aside. Mix the rest of the ingredients (except decorating cherry and sliced almonds) and mix with an electric beater until well mixed. Fold this into the dry ingredients.

Put the Wafer Paper cutouts on baking pan. Roll the cookie mixture into 1 inch balls and place on Wafer Paper. Use dampened fingers and press down dough, leaving a small edge of Wafer Paper.

Be careful not to get the dough onto the baking sheet as the dough will stick to the pan. Decorate with sliced almond or cherry before baking.

Bake 400 degree F x 8-10 until cookie edges are a very light brown

Will be bringing these to share at work on Valentine’s Day.

Remind people that the paper is edible. Some people waste quite a bit of time trying to peel the paper off 😉