Nutty Apples

Last Updated on Wednesday, 1 February 2012 12:04 Written by Flax Wednesday, 1 February 2012 11:50

Diabetes is on the rise, growing to epidemic proportions.  The number of Israelis with diabetes – today there are 500,000 diagnosed and an equal number as yet undiagnosed or with pre-diabetes – is estimated to double to two million by 2025.  Medical professionals are aware that the best way to treat diabetes is through prevention methods.  This includes educating awareness towards the importance of a healthy lifestyle.  To show the significance of lifestyle and diet one only has to look at the statistics.  Jews who made aliya from Ethiopia have seen a rise in the rate of diabetes from 0.4% to 16% due to significant lifestyle and dietary changes.  Those who do not suffer from diabetes are still impacted by the disease through our health insurance plan, the economic cost of diabetes in Israel is around 10,000,000 NIS,  about 20% of the total national health expenditure.

Israel is not alone.  Globally,  the number of diabetics, the majority suffering from Type II diabetes,  has risen from 153 million in 1980 to 347 million in 2008; the figure is expected to rise to 472 million in 2030.  Complications from diabetes affect the kidneys, eyes, nervous system, blood vessels, heart and lower limbs.

While eating refined grains is directly linked to diabetes as it causes blood sugar levels to soar which in turn stresses the pancreas and causes it to fail to produce enough insulin, a more holistic approach is to view all aspects of the diet.  Chinese medicine sees the over consumption of animal products as leading to a protein carbohydrate imbalance which then leads to a desire for refined grains and sugars.  While it is easy to scoff at this notion which is contrary to popular Western beliefs, sometimes seeing (or rather feeling) is believing.  Try eating one meal of brown rice and vegetables and a second meal of steak and salad.  After the steak and salad most people will crave a sweet either immediately after the meal or certainly within an hour or two of eating when a feeling of fatigue hits.  On the contrary, the lighter meal of brown rice and vegetables can sustain for hours, keeping our blood sugar level, without a dip in energy, loss of focus, signs of fatigue, or sugar cravings.

With all that said and done, sweet foods are wonderful.  Healthy sweet foods energize and relax the body, the nerves, and the brain.  A celebration is not a celebration without something sweet.  The question is, what is a healthy sweet.  The healthiest sweeteners to use in desserts are stevia (which actually balances blood sugar), rice syrup, and barley malt.  Both the rice syrup and the barley malt, (products found in your local health food store) are naturally processed sweeteners which are 50% maltose as opposed to the high sucrose sweeteners which disrupt our blood sugar levels.

The recipe below, in honor of the celebration of tu be’shvat.  The celebration of the renewal of life in nature should remind us that our bodies are not meant to be taken for granted.  Each and every day is a renewal of life.  Our gratitude for the miracle of life should extend to what we allow to enter our bodies and our souls on all levels.

Ingredients:

  • 4 golden apples
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp rice syrup/barley malt
  • 2 tbsp ground almonds
  • lemon juice

Pre-heat oven to 180 C

Core the apples and coat the hollow with the lemon juice to prevent the flesh from turning brown.  Place in a baking dish

Mix together the cinnamon, almonds,  and the rice syrup/barley malt.  Generously fill the apples with the mixture and then place in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until the apples are completely soft.

Serve warm.

Serves 4.

Sima Herzfeld Navon is a Nutritional Healer and teaches healthy cooking classes.

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Home-Made Applesauce (Compote)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 December 2011 12:27 Written by Flax Tuesday, 20 December 2011 12:27

This recipe is dedicated to the memory of my Oma who’s yarzheit is on the eighth day of Hanukkah.

Hanukkah latkes are yummy!  Certainly not the healthiest food, and definitely hard to digest.  Potato latkes are often eaten with a little bit of applesauce on the side.  Believe it or not, that little bit of applesauce actually helps with the digestion of the latke.

Apples contain both malic and tartaric acids which inhibit the growth of unhealthy bacteria in the digestive tract.  Apples also contain pectin which removes cholesterol and helps the liver and the gallbladder to metabolize fat.  Apples, especially green apples are used to soften gallstones in preparation for a gallbladder flush.

The recipe below is from my Oma.  My Oma was born and passed away on the same day, on the eighth day of Hanukkah.  Needless to say that my grandmother was a wonderful cook-and her favorite activity was to feed us!  Her homemade applesauce was one of my favorite foods as a child, and to this day it is my ultimate comfort food.  Her method was to cook the apples whole, and then to puree them using a food mill  Using a food mill, a once common kitchen tool,  simplifies the process and makes the work involved almost nil.  Unfortunately, the food mill is no longer common (Williams-Sonoma does sell food mills for the ridiculous price of $150) and this necessitates peeling and coring the apples before cooking them.  While preparing the apples for cooking does require more time and effort, the end result justifies the means.

Tradition holds that being born and passing away on the same day is the sign of someone who is a zadik (a righteous person).  I love that my Oma’s yarzheit is on the last night of Hanukkah, a time when Jews, all over the world are lighting an abundance of candles.  I am comforted in the knowledge that my Oma’s neshama (soul) can be easily drawn by those sparks of light to be with those who might need her.

Ingredients:

  • 10 golden apples
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup orange juice (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)

If you own a food mill boil the apples whole, if not then peel and core the apples.  Bring the water to a boil and add the apples. Simmer on a low flame for approximately one hour or until the apples are soft. Remove from the flame,  and either sieve through a food mill or lightly mash with a fork.  Add the orange juice and refrigerate.

Serve cold.

Sima Herzfeld Navon has a clinic for holistic medicine.  She also teaches healthy cooking and nutritional healing.

To learn more about Sima visit: www.JustAddFlax.com

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AAA Healthy Dessert to the Rescue

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 July 2011 08:44 Written by Flax Wednesday, 27 July 2011 08:38

AAA

Healthy Dessert to the Rescue

Let’s be honest, healthy and dessert are oxymorons.  There are no really good desserts that are truly healthy.  On the other hand, sometimes all we need is a little taste of something sweet at the end of a meal in order to feel completely satisfied.  This is especially true after eating a heavy meat meal.  While those rich, creamy, and sugary desserts always look attractive, many of us often regret that short moment of pleasure.  I recommend trying a lighter dessert which also has wonderful health benefits.

The AAA in the title stands for Apple Agar-Agar.   Agar-Agar, also known as kanten,  is a gelatine made from seaweed.  Besides having all  of the wonderful health benefits of seaweed, it is also an excellent kosher gelatine option.  More and more badatz products in Israel that use gelatine are switching to seaweed gelatine.  Seaweed gelatine  is also preferable to animal gelatine  from a culinary point of view as unlike beef or fish gelatine it doesn’t melt at room temperature.

All seaweeds are known to be high in vitamins and minerals.  They are especially high in  iodine, calcium, and iron.  Some seaweeds have up to ten times more calcium than milk and up to twenty-five times more iron than beef.  All sea vegetables (a fancier way of saying seaweed) help to lower cholesterol, are beneficial to the thyroid, and they help to detoxify the body.  Seaweed is so healthy and it makes me feel so alive that I have made it a habit to eat  five to fifteen grams of seaweed every single day.  Not everyone however likes the taste of seaweed (that was an understatement) and they avoid eating it.  Since agar-agar is tasteless, odorless, and  invisible when cooked, no-one has to actually know what it is that they eating.

However, my favorite feature of agar-agar is that it helps to promotes digestion and weight loss.  Yes, that is correct, a dessert that will actually help you to lose weight!  So, now you can eat your dessert and enjoy it too.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 5 tablespoons agar-agar flakes
  • 1 tablespoons rice malt (a healthy sweetener)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 golden apple, peeled, cored, and chopped

Bring the apple cider, agar flakes, rice malt, and spices to a boil over a medium flame while stirring frequently.  Simmer for three minutes .  Add the apple pieces and simmer for two minutes more.  Remove the cinnamon stick and pour into individual molds.  Allow to cool and then refrigerate for one hour.

Serves 6-8.  Serve chilled

Note:  The correct amount of agar-agar to use fluctuates in accordance to the acidity of the dish.  To check if you are using the correct amount of agar-agar, remove one tablespoon of the mixture and pour onto a flat surface.  After five minutes you will be able to see if it holds.

Enjoy!

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