The Festival of Light

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 December 2011 03:13 Written by Flax Tuesday, 13 December 2011 02:01

The Festival of Light is just around the corner.  Jews and their sense of humor, how can anyone consider fried potatoes and fried dough to be light?  Festival of Oil is more like it.  To make matters even worse, Hanukkah is smack in the middle of the winter, a time when we are most susceptible to gaining weight, and to retaining it.  Tradition is tradition, there really is no getting around the jelly donuts and potato pancakes, but there are healthier ways to keep tradition.

Baking is always better than frying.  While baked latkes certainly don’t taste nearly as good as fried latkes, they are definitely healthier.  Another option is to add vegetables to the latkes to increase their nutritional value.  I like to grate some zucchini, carrots, and sweet potatoes, and add them to the standard potato latke.  Another trick that I have is to add a little bit of wakame (seaweed) to the potato latkes.  I just tell everyone that it is parsley and no one knows the difference.  The advantage of having wakame in your potato latkes is that the alginate in the wakame inhibits the fat absorption by over 75%.  Pretty amazing!  So now you can eat your latkes and banish the fat.

Ingredients:

  • 3 potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1/2 tsp wakame
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder (optional)
  • oil for frying

Soak the wakame in cold water for five minutes.

Grate the vegetables and squeeze out the excess water.  Squeeze the excess water from the wakame and add the wakame to the vegetables.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Heat the oil in a frying pan.  Add the mixture one tablespoon at a time into the oil.  When the bottom is golden brown, flip the latke and brown the other side.

Remove from the pan, drain the oil, and serve

Tip: Adding a piece of carrot to the oil prevents the oil from developing a burnt flavor.

Note:  The recipe above is not meant to promote eating, heavy, greasy, fried foods. My intention here is to help remedy an already bad situation.

Sima Herzfeld Navon is a Nutritional Healer and a runs a Clinic for Holistic Healing.  To learn more, visit her website: www.JustAddFlax.com

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The Miracle of Miso

Last Updated on Tuesday, 8 November 2011 08:03 Written by Flax Tuesday, 8 November 2011 08:03

Miso is a fermented paste, salty in flavor and rich in nutrients.  There are three basic types of miso:

  • Dark miso, strong in flavor.
  • Red miso, more mild in flavor.
  • Yellow or white miso, mild and sweet in flavor.

Look for miso in the Asian section of your health food store.  Miso, sold inside a thick plastic packaging, is a live food-like yeast and after it is opened it must be kept refrigerated, preferably in a glass jar. Properly stored, miso can last for up to a year.   The live element in miso is called lactobacillus.  Lactobacillus, (also now known as probiotics) creates an alkaline condition in the body and helps us to fight off disease.  Ancient tradition holds that eating miso promotes long life and good health.

Miso first became known as the “miracle food” during WWII.  On August 9, 1945, there were two hospitals, each located about one mile from the epicenter in Nagasaki.  At University Hospital 3000 patients suffered greatly from leukemia and disfiguring radiation burns. This hospital served its patients a modern fare of sugar, white rice, and refined white flour products. The second hospital,  St. Francis Hospital, under the direction of Shinichiro Akizuki, M.D., fed his patients and staff a daily diet of brown rice, miso soup, vegetables, and seaweed.  Neither he, nor his patients suffered from the effects of the nuclear blast.   Dr. Akizuki and his co-workers continued to go around the city of Nagasaki, in straw sandals visiting the sick in their homes.  Dr. Akizuki, his staff, and the hospitals patients, were considered to be an example of a modern miracle.  Today we understand that the “miracle” was due to a healthy diet which included both miso and seaweed.

Miso soup, standard fare in any Asian style restaurant has become quite popular and is now relatively well know.  Miso however is easy to use and is also very versatile.  Try spread white miso on bread as an alternative to butter, hummus,  tehina, or even peanut butter.  Combine it with sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and honey, to make an Asian style dressing, or make a marinade out of red miso, mustard, rice vinegar, brown sugar, and soy sauce to use on grilled meats, fish, or tofu.  It is important to note however that once miso is cooked the lactobacillus dies.  Add miso to the soup only after it has been removed from the flame.

Asian Style Cole-Slaw

  • 1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds

Dressing:

  • 2 tbsp white miso
  • 2 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp grated ginger

Combine all of the ingredients and mix well.

Place the vegetables and sesame seeds in a large salad bowl.  Pour on the dressing and toss.

Serve cold.  Serves 4-6 as a side dish.

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

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Preventing Cancer Through Diet

Last Updated on Tuesday, 1 November 2011 10:05 Written by Flax Monday, 31 October 2011 02:12

As October becomes November the Cancer Awareness society moves their focus from Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October) to Lung and Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month (November).   While the Breast Cancer Awareness society has brought home the  “one in nine”  the more correct statistic for Jewish Ashkenzi women is “one in eight”.  The high rate is attributed to the “Jewish gene” – three mutations in the genes BRACA1 and BRACA2 – which raise the likelihood of breast cancer by 60-80 percent.  4,000 Israeli women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, and 900 die of the disease.  Lung cancer however, is the most dangerous of all cancers and is responsible for 29% of all cancer related deaths.

The cancer society has acknowledged a link between unhealthy lifestyle choices and higher cancer risk.  Two significant ways to reduce the risk of cancer are through exercise and diet.  Healthy dietary choices include eating a plant based diet,  eating whole grains, reducing saturated fats (animal products), reducing trans fat omega-6 oils (hydrogenated vegetable oils) and instead, using oils that are high in omega-3.  The two foods that I consider to be the most beneficial to both preventing and curing cancer are flax seed and seaweed.

Flax, high in omega-3 is also one of the best sources of vegetable lignins, compounds that have anti-tumor, anti-estrogenic, and anti-oxidant properties.  While flax appears to have value in treating all cancers, it is of extra value in treating both colon and breast cancers as the cells of these cancers have estrogen receptors and can be inhibited by the anti-estrogenic compounds in lignins.

Seaweeds are vegetables that are  easily digested, contain ten to twenty times the amount of minerals as regular (land) vegetables and have an abundance of vitamins and minerals.  Seaweeds detoxify the body, remove residues of radiation, are beneficial to the thyroid, and improve liver function.  Seaweeds ability to help reduce growths and tumors is noted in ancient Chinese texts which claim “there is no swelling that is not relieved by seaweed”.

To mark the occasion of October and November Cancer awareness months, I offer a recipe which uses both flax-seed and seaweed.  Satisfyingly enough, no-one, other than yourself, will  know that they are eating seaweed, or flax-seed for that matter. I served this dish for Shabbat lunch (when we had company),  I didn’t get a single seaweed comment, and there were no left overs.

This recipe has two parts but it’s not complicated. If making the crust is overwhelming, then buy a frozen ready-made whole wheat crust and just enjoy the health benefits of the filling. I promise you though, the crust isn’t hard to make, and from beginning to end, it adds only 5 minutes of work and one mixing bowl. If you are up to it, it’s worth the effort because while my recipe calls for olive oil and flax-seed, you know that they what you are buying contains  margarine galore and not even a single, solitary, flax-seed.

Wishing everyone good health and happiness ad meah ve’esrim.

Ingredients:

Crust

  • 1 cup whole flour (spelt or wheat)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp ground flax-seed
  • 1/2 tsp Atlantic grey sea salt
  • 3 tbsp hot water
  • 1/2 cup water (apx.)

Preheat oven to 180 c (350 f)

Allow the the flax-seed and the salt to soak  in the hot water for 5 minutes. Pour the dissolved salt flax mixture into a bowl and add the remaining ingredients.  knead the dough until it is smooth. Roll out the dough into a thin layer and place in either a pie dish or a baking pan (any size or shape will work). Prick with a fork and bake at 180c (350f) for 10 minutes, until it is partially baked. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Wakame Filling

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/2″ (1 cm) ginger, grated
  • 1 bunch beet leaves (mangold or kale), coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced into matchsticks
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp wakame
  • 1 tbsp ground flax-seed, soaked in 4 tbsp water for 5 minutes
  • 1 small kohlrabi, slice into thin roundels
  • 1 thinly sliced carrot roundel

Soak the wakame in cold water for ten minutes.  Squeeze out the excess water and set aside.

Preheat oven to 180 c (350 f).

Heat the olive oil in a deep frying pan.  Add the onion, garlic, ginger and spices and saute for 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add the beet leaves and the carrots and saute until the beet leaves are limp.   Remove from the flame and stir in the wakame and the the flax-seed. Spoon onto the half-baked pie crust.
Spread the kohlrabi roundels in a circle over the top of the pie to form a flower shape. Place the carrot roundel in the center of the circle. Carefully brush the kohlrabi flower with olive oil.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden.

Serve hot.

Serves 4-6 as a side dish.

Enjoy!

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

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