Seasonal Eats: Roasted Kabocha Squash

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I love going to the farmers market every week and finding fun things to make in the kitchen. It gives me a chance to try seasonal food that I normally wouldn’t think about eating. I also like supporting my local community. This week I encountered the kabocha squash. It comes in both an orange and green variety.

The texture of kabocha squash is kind of like butternut squash and pumpkin. It has a nutty sweet taste and smooth finish. The skin is edible once baked and also has lots of fiber.

This squash is filling and nutrient dense, packed with fiber, potassium, iron,  and lots of vitamins. Being rich in vitamin A it is also great for the skin, hair and eyes. Vitamin A is a necessary component to build collagen and improve elasticity to the skin.

Squash may looking like a daunting vegetable to cook, but it’s surprisingly easy to make! You can boil, bake or puree it into a soup. Take a look below at a simple way to prepare it.

Baked Kabocha Squash

Ingredients:

kabocha squash

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Rinse kabocha squash and then pat dry.
  4. Take a heavy knife ( like a cleaver) and cut the squash in half. Scoop out the seeds. Then cut squash into 3 inch slices (the main idea is make them about the same size.)
  5. Drizzle and lightly coat kabocha squash with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  6. Place sliced squash on baking sheet and bake for 35-40 mins. The squash is done when you can pierce it through with a fork. You can now eat it either warm of cooled.

I like eating the skin and don’t feel like it effects the taste. If you rather not eat the skin after it is baked is when you should remove it as with the stem which is not edible.

Here are two suggestions for flavoring once it is cooled.

  • add pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.
  • add grated ginger, chopped scallion, sesame oil, honey and soy sauce.

How To Keep A Healthy Home [Part 2]

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This week we continue the interview with home improvement specialist Zack Pelzel from The Purified Home. In part one, we discussed how he got into the business and his philosophy the four pillars. If you missed last week’s post, you can check it out here. This week, in part two we continue the discussion below.

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M: We we’re talking about stressors in the home environment and how it’s a build-up of [air quality, EMF’s, bad water, bad lighting]. If it was just [one thing] it probably wouldn’t be too bad.

Z: Right. Electricity or EMF exposure would probably  be a good place to start. A lot of people do this, they start off with one and call me the next month and they will be like “we’re ready to do water”,  and then the next month they will do the light then the air. Whatever resonates with you the strongest. Another thing to look at is your overall symptomology — are you having trouble concentrating? Are you having respiratory issues? Are you sleeping terribly? Is your skin dry? That will kind of determine where to go first.

M: So have you been able to help someone that had respiratory issues or skin issues? After going to their home, were you able to help them move forward or get better  from that?

Z: Yeah, I actually just had a client last week share his success story. He’s an athlete and he does voice-overs, so he speaks for a living. He was having all types of respiratory issues — exercise induced asthma, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and exhaustion with simple exertion. He’s an avid Frisbee golf player and he couldn’t’ even go out and play Frisbee or golf any more. He was struggling. And so what I did was I brought over a loaner air purifier for him — just something I do for some of my clients — and I brought it over there and cranked it up. Taught him a little about ventilation. [His issue] was a combination of poor indoor air quality and inadequate ventilation. He just sent me an email about 4 days ago saying ” Zack, I just exercised for the first time in two years and I did haven’t an asthma attack.” It’s been 2 months now and he’s still improving.

M: Wow that’s amazing!

z: Yeah, sometimes it can be that palpable and can help in an instant. Other times it has to build up over time depending on which of the four pillars [is effected]. Most people report the same thing: ” I just feel more at peace.” And to me, peace of mind is everything.

M: That’s really great. So if there were one thing that people can do to help transition into a cleaner home environment, what would you suggest?

Z: Yeah, so I’ll give you one little pearl of wisdom on each of the four pillars. In regards to air quality, ventilate, that means open up the windows. I know it’s a bit cold right now, but open up the windows and get some fresh air. Do it first thing in the morning when the air is clean before all the cars start driving and before all the dust gets stirred up. First thing, in the evening or late at night restore adequate oxygen in the home.

As far as light goes, limit your exposure to any kind of blue light. Anything that is back-lit, so your iPads or your iPhones, computers, tv — limit that kind of exposure an hour before bed. One of the simplest things is going to any hardware store and getting a red light bulb, and put it in your bed side lamp. If you are reading at night, that red light won’t stimulate serotonin production, so you will actually start to stimulate melatonin production. Melatonin is nature’s natural anti-oxidant.

With water you can do something as simple as putting 1000 milligrams of vitamin c in the bath tub. That will eliminate the chlorine and ammonia in the tub.

Regarding electricity, shut your wifi down at night. Turn the wireless routers off. Put your phones on airplane mode. And get as many gadgets out of your bed room as you can. Again we are trying to restore that natural electrical environment.  Eventually you would have to go through testing to see where the levels are at, but those are four things that will instantly move you toward creating a healthier living environment.

How To Keep A Healthy Home [Part 1]

The Purified Home Logo

In modern society, we are constantly bombarded with external stressors that we have learned to live with: Pollution in the air, chlorinated water, constant exposure to light and the constant electromagnetic waves that pass through the air. Our environment has drastically changed from what we once knew it to be. When we think of our homes we think of it as a place to rest and somewhere we can can put our feet up. But have you ever thought about the environmental stress that we have in our home? I had the pleasure of interviewing Zack Pelzel from Purified Home, a home improvement specialist that focuses on making your home closer to nature. Zack has great insights and tips on how to make your home into a more relaxing space.

The Purified Home One Page FINAL

Purified Home addresses the current state of your home by identifying the stressors and toxins that exist in the home. The philosophy of purified home is based on the 4 pillars. The 4 pillars are: Water, Air Quality, Light, Water, and Electricity/EMF’s. This structure helps find the imbalances in your home and locates what needs to be addressed. Check out the interview below!

 

M: Why did you get into this business and what inspired you to start Purified Home?

Wonderful, that’s a great question. There are couple things that served as an impetus for Purified Home. I  have an extensive background in the building industry, since I was like 17 or 18 I’ve been working on and off with general contractors and builders. And have always been an avid tinkerer myself, doing handy work and general contracting and things like that. So I was in a lot of homes.

Then after about age 35, I started Chinese medicine school and was treating patients, and patient after patient was coming in and they would get better temporarily, but you know something was still missing. I would prescribe them herbs and give them acupuncture treatments and they get better for a couples days. One day I was doing handy man work in the morning, and then treating patients in the afternoon and it just dawned on me. It was like a light bulb went off. These people are always reacting to their external environment, so I can treat them and prescribe herbs to them until I’m blue in the face, but unless their home environment supported the treatment that we were doing in the clinic, then they would always be in that reactionary or flight or fight response in their home.

So the whole premise of Purified Home is to create the foundation for optimal health. Which is to have that living environment, where your body can literally rest and digest and heal from the exposure of the elements throughout the day, both mentally emotionally physically and spiritually. And at that point the home becomes a sanctuary, you treat it like you treat a church or like a museum with that ultimate respect.

M: That’s amazing. So what is your philosophy on Purified Home?

You know, after years of looking at all the things that you are exposed to in the home environment, I had to reflect back on a 19 day backpacking trip I did solo, in the John Muir wilderness. I did the John Muir trail — that was when I was 37 — and I spent about 19 days there by myself, and something really interesting happened. When you are out there that long, you start to cycle through earth’s natural cycles, so you start to wake up with the sun and you start to go to sleep with the sun. You are filtering water out of mountain streams and so the water is just teeming, it’s alive. It’s a natural electrical environment — you’re just harmonizing with earths’ natural electrical magnetic field. Which is the Schumann Resonance. Lastly, you are breathing air that is literally being filtered by hundreds of thousands of trees all around you.

I use that as my model. We want to get the home as close to nature as possible, and what we call them is the four pillars. The four pillars are air quality, which is inclusive of not just air particulate matter, but ventilation and adequate levels of oxygen in the home, low levels of carbon dioxide in the home and ion concentration. And it gets really quite specific, so with air quality we think of air particulate matter, but we also need to think about ventilation and also humidity. The second pillar would be water — we bathe in, we shower in, we do dishes in, we wash our clothes in, and then all the water we drink, that we ingest. We want to get that as close to nature as possible. We want a high mineral content. We don’t need any of these additives or disinfectants that we add to get the water clean, like chlorine and ammonia.

M: What about electricity?

So the third one was the light. You know, the sun — sunlight. We want to get as close to the sun as we possibly can – to natural lighting. Everyone has these compact fluorescent bulbs. Those things turn on and off 120 times every second. So it’s a flicker – our eyes are fatiguing and stimulating.

And then lastly is a natural electrical environment — what some people are calling EMF (electro-magnetic frequencies). Well, the home is anything but natural now, because of all the gadgets that we bring in. There’s 3 fields that we test for, we test for electric fields that exist anywhere you have something plugged in, whether the device is on or off. You have magnetic fields, which anytime there is current flowing along a wire, it produces a magnetic field. And then lastly there is wireless technologies — gaming consoles and routers and all that stuff. So that’s the philosophy of the four pillars.

M: So basically you are trying to create a state of a natural environment, kind of like the way people used to live? In a sense, there is less stress because when you are outside you have environmental stress like pollution and traffic.  So you want to make your home as natural as possible.

A sanctuary is kind of what keeps popping up into my head. It’s the only environment that we can control. When you step outside you get exposed to the elements. But your home is your home. You can control that. So that is the core philosophy — being able to control that home environment.

M: That’s very cool.  So you have these 4 pillars, what do you think is the most important thing that people can do to change their home? What is that one thing that you would recommend they do in order to purify their home?

Well, since there are four pillars, it’s a truly holistic approach. They are all important. The simple answer is that they are all important. What I recommend to people is to look at the four pillars and  find out which one resonates you with you the strongest. If it’s water, we want to look at shower filtration — we want to look at whole house water filtration. Electricity, light, air — they are all important so you can’t just isolate one.

I would say right now the state that most homes are in, the electrical pollution is probably number one, because these are all unnatural frequencies that we are bringing into the home. They don’t exist in nature at these concentrations. So the EMF stuff — again electromagnetic fields, magnetic fields, radio fields — are all disruptive to homeostasis and balance of the body. It’s like someones is tapping you on the shoulder all day long. It’s not going to kill you, but its going to irritate you and put you in a stress response.

 

 

In the next post, we’ll continue with Zack on simple ways to keep the home environment cleaner. You can find out more about Zack and the Purified Home here.

 

 

New To Green Beauty? One Multi -Use Product

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I’m sure you have all heard about all the health benefits of coconut oil. Aside from consuming it, did you know you can use it as a beauty product too? It is one product that can help nourish your skin and be applied almost anywhere! I always try to use raw organic extra virgin coconut oil like the one in the picture made by Ojio. You can buy this coconut oil online here. Listed below are some of the best way to use it as a beauty product:

  1. Eye Makeup Remover– Next time when you are going to take your make up off, take a dab of coconut oil and gently massage it in to remove your makeup. Make sure you don’t stick your finger directly in the jar since this can cause bacteria to grow. I suggest you get a clean spoon and take out the amount you need. After applying it to your skin, you can either wash it off with water, soap or  simply wipe to it off. It is very thick and oily so you may not like it, but it’s a much better alternative then using toxic makeup removers.
  2. Moisturizer– Coconut oil is a great skin conditioner. Instead of reaching for lotion,  grab some coconut oil and rub it your skin. You can also apply it your lips as a lip balm and works well for dry cracked lips. Not only does it smell great, but it has the fatty acids that help retain the moisture of your skin.
  3. Hair Oil – You can also apply coconut oil to help condition your hair. This works great if you have dry ends. After washing your hair, apply oil to the ends of your hair. Use a little bit at a time, as it is very moisturizing and can make your hair look greasy, but healthy. It will definitely add lots of shine!
  4. Oil Pulling – If you haven’t tried oil pulling yet you should definitely give it a try. Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic dental technique that helps remove toxins from your body.  There have been recent studies showing that not only can it improve dental health, but it also help freshen breath. To oil pull, first thing when you wake up swish 1 tablespoon of coconut oil  in your mouth for 20 minutes. When you are finished spit it out, BUT DO NOT SPIT IT OUT IN YOUR SINK. Coconut oil at room temperature is a solid so it can clog your pipes and no one wants to deal with that. 
  5. Body Scrub– You can make your own body scrub by adding sea salt or sugar to coconut oil.  This is a great way to exfoliate and moisturize your skin. Add equal amounts of coconut oil ( 1/4 a cup) and sugar or salt (1/4 a cup) to a bowl.  You can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil and mix the mixture together or not (Coconut oil smells great by its self).

When using coconut as a facial moisturizer, for some it may clogs pores especially if you already have large pores and don’t exfoliate. So try it out and see if it works for you! Try a test patch first because some people may be allergic. Also not all coconut is created equal, so make sure you get a high quality cold pressed oil. Coconut oil makes a great start for transitioning into using clean products. You only have to buy one item that covers so many basis. Just be sure you always use a clean spoon when you scoop from the jar.  What are other uses do you use coconut oil for?

Fresh Ginger Tea For Nausea

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Ginger can be used in a variety of ways. When it comes to cooking you can put it in your stir fry, use it as a garnish or add it to stew and curries. There are infinite dishes that ginger can be incorporated into, but did you know that drinking ginger tea can also help with nausea or an upset stomach?

According to Chinese Medicine, ginger is an herb that is warming, can reduce toxicity, helps with nausea, vomiting and helps eradicate an oncoming cold. One of the easiest ways to help nausea is to make a simple ginger tea. Ginger tea is soothing and comforting and can even be enjoyed as a nice digestive after a meal. Not only is fresh ginger tea easy to make, but it’s natural and has more flavor, in my opinion.

Fresh Ginger Tea

  • 1/2 – 1 inch piece of organic fresh ginger root ( thinly slice or chopped)
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups of filtered water
  1. Pour water into sauce pan and bring to a boil. Add ginger (The more ginger that you add, the spicier the tea will be).
  2. Reduce to simmer and let simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and strain tea into cup.
  4. Enjoy!

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Chai Tea w/ Milk and Honey

 

 

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Start the New Year off with a cup of chai! Instead of buying a cup, just make it and get your home smelling amazing. The aromatic smells of cinnamon and cardamom really fill the room with warmth! The mixture of the different herbs in the tea help with digestion and warm up the body. It’s a great way to start off a chilly day.

I use a recipe inspired by Food Network. I add honey instead of brown sugar and add the milk or cream to each individual cup. Honey is loaded with antioxidants and brings out the flavor of the tea. Chai tea is also great on its own without anything added.

Modified Recipe as follows:

7 cups of water
1 tablespoon fennel seed
6 green cardamom pods
12 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 (1/4-inch) piece ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced
6 black peppercorns
2 tablespoons Darjeeling tea or (2 black tea bags)

Honey to taste
Milk to taste

1. Take a medium sauce pan and add water, fennel seed, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon stick, ginger root, peppercorns, and water.

2, Boil for 5 minutes. Then turn off heat and let it sit for 10 minutes.

3. After seeping, add tea and bring to boil reduce and simmer for about 5 minutes.

4. Strain tea and discard the spices. Pour into individual cups adding honey and milk to taste.

*I serve the tea in a cup and then add milk and honey to my desired taste

Why You Should Use Natural Products

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Skin. It’s such a beautiful thing. It keeps all out organs and insides in place. It protects us from bacteria and infection.  It works with our body to help maintain our temperature.

One thing we should keep in mind is that the skin is breathable and porous. This means that what comes in contact with our skin can also be absorbed into the body.

Consider what kind of products you use on your skin directly. Many of the products we use for beauty are filled with chemicals and toxins. There are many chemicals in lotions, makeup, deodorant, toothpaste, soap and much more.

Many of these products contain words that we don’t know or can’t even pronounce. For instance, parabens have been added to “preserve” and extend the shelf life of products, but they have been associated with endocrine disruption which interferes with our hormones. Also, the chemical phthalate is used to make scents last longer and has been linked to disrupting human development, particularly in young males. Fragrances make the products smell good but the downside is they are also a hormone disruptor and an allergen. These are just a few toxic ingredients that are added to the your personal care products that can cause negative effects on the human body.

If you want to get a better understanding on what you should avoid, the Environmental Working Group has great guidelines to help you shop for better ingredients or at least get a start on it. http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/top-tips-for-safer-products/

 

references:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1519860/pdf/envhper00375-0020.pdf
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18484575  J Appl Toxicol. 2008 Jul;28(5):561-78. doi: 10.1002/jat.1358.
Paraben esters: review of recent studies of endocrine toxicity, absorption, esterase and human exposure, and discussion of potential human health risks.
Some Alkyl Hydroxy Benzoate Preservatives (Parabens) Are Estrogenic
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Edwin_Routledge/publication/13413749_Some_alkyl_hydroxy_benzoate_preservatives_%28parabens%29_are_estrogenic/links/541185e20cf29e4a23296aba.pdf

Farmer’s Market Finds 12-23-15

SMFM 12-23-15I go to the Wednesday Farmer’s Market in Santa Monica every week. It’s a great place to find fresh seasonal, local and organic produce. Everyone is very friendly and knowledgeable about what they grow and produce every season. This year has been a dry year so the there has been a shortage in a variety of fruits and vegetables. Either way it’s still a great place to shop and a great experience.

During the winter months there is definitely less to choose from. However, it’s exciting to find all the colorful thick skinned squashes and beans which we don’t see as often in the warmer months. This week I’d like to share with you what I bought!

From Rutiz Farms I got some wonderful sierra gold potatoes which are amazingly sweet and just perfect for mashed potatoes. They have such a sweet buttery taste which you can’t compare to a russet. I always like to get some green vegetables too, so from Finley Farms I bought curly kale, celery and carrots. Their vegetables are always great quality and never disappoint. In addition, I also got some mustard greens and Russian kale from Flora Bella which has unique and very tasty produce.

Last, but not least, I got some sweet satsuma mandarins from Garcia Family Farms. Their citrus is the best, and they usually have many different kinds to offer. Citrus has high quantities of vitamin C which is great for the winter to help boost your immune system!