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“Why Do Men [and Women] Stupefy Themselves?” Substance Abuse and Addiction

Life is sweet; life is hard. How we handle the hard times is essential to our growth.
Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher, cultural critic, and poet, whose work has exerted a profound influence on Western philosophy and modern intellectual history, realized that difficulties of every sort were to be welcomed by those seeking fulfillment.

“Like his pastor father, Nietzsche had been committed to the task of consolation.  Like his father, he had wished to offer us paths to fulfillment.  But, he said, ‘The worst sickness of men has originated in the way they have combated their sicknesses.  What seemed a cure has in the long run produced something worse than what it was supposed to overcome.  the means which worked immediately, anaesthetizing, and intoxicating, the so-called consolations,were ignorantly supposed to be actual cures. . . . these instantaneous alleviations often had to be paid for with a general and profound worsening of the complaint'” (de Botton, The Consolations of Philosophy, p. 244).

Instead of facing their difficulties, many turn to drugs and alcohol to anaesthetize themselves.
According to a recent New York Times article:

AKRON, Ohio — Drug overdose deaths in 2016 most likely exceeded 59,000, the largest annual jump ever recorded in the United States, according to preliminary data compiled by The New York Times.

The death count is the latest consequence of an escalating public health crisis: opioid addiction, now made more deadly by an influx of illicitly manufactured fentanyl and similar drugs. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50.

Although the data is preliminary, the Times’s best estimate is that deaths rose 19 percent over the 52,404 recorded in 2015. And all evidence suggests the problem has continued to worsen in 2017.

Because drug deaths take a long time to certify, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will not be able to calculate final numbers until December. The Times compiled estimates for 2016 from hundreds of state health departments and county coroners and medical examiners. Together they represent data from states and counties that accounted for 76 percent of overdose deaths in 2015. They are a first look at the extent of the drug overdose epidemic last year, a detailed accounting of a modern plague.

The initial data points to large increases in drug overdose deaths in states along the East Coast, particularly Maryland, Florida, Pennsylvania and Maine. In Ohio, which filed a lawsuit last week accusing five drug companies of abetting the opioid epidemic, we estimate overdose deaths increased by more than 25 percent in 2016.

“Heroin is the devil’s drug, man. It is,” Cliff Parker said, sitting on a bench in Grace Park in Akron. Mr. Parker, 24, graduated from high school not too far from here, in nearby Copley, where he was a multisport athlete. In his senior year, he was a varsity wrestler and earned a scholarship to the University of Akron. Like his friends and teammates, he started using prescription painkillers at parties. It was fun, he said. By the time it stopped being fun, it was too late. Pills soon turned to heroin, and his life began slipping away from him.

Mr. Parker’s story is familiar in the Akron area. From a distance, it would be easy to paint Akron — “Rubber Capital of the World” — as a stereotypical example of Rust Belt decay. But that’s far from a complete picture. While manufacturing jobs have declined and the recovery from the 2008 recession has been slow, unemployment in Summit County, where Akron sits, is roughly in line with the United States as a whole. The Goodyear factories have been retooled into technology centers for research and polymer science. The city has begun to rebuild. But deaths from drug overdose here have skyrocketed. . .

From: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/05/upshot/opioid-epidemic-drug-overdose-deaths-are-rising-faster-than-ever.html?_r=0

 

There are many ways to anaesthetize yourself:  alcohol, smoking, over-eating. . . . Heck, you can be addicted to running or paddling (but then at least you will have a clear head).

Many years ago after being introduced in a terrific literature class to Leo Tolstoy’s novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, my friend Melinda introduced me to some of Tolstoy’s non-fiction.  One convincing piece was Why Do Men Stupefy Themselves? 
Recently, I came across Maria Popova’s blog on Tolstoy’s “Stupefy” essay.  Tolstoy’s ideas still ring true today. 

“The seeing, spiritual being, whose manifestation we commonly call conscience, always points with one end towards right and with the other towards wrong, and we do not notice it while we follow the course it shows.”

“The people of the United States spend exactly as much money on booze alone as on the space program,” Isaac Asimov quipped in a witty and wise 1969 response to a reader who had berated him on the expense of space exploration. At no other time of the year are our cultural priorities more glaring than during our holiday merriment, which entails very little cosmos and very many Cosmos. Long before Asimov, another sage of the human spirit set out to unravel the mystery of why such substances appeal to us so: In 1890, a decade after his timelessly enlightening spiritual memoir and midway through his Calendar of Wisdom magnum opus, Leo Tolstoy penned an insightful essay titled “Why Do Men Stupefy Themselves?” as a preface to a book on “drunkenness” by a Russian physician named P. S. Alexeyev. Eventually included in the altogether excellent posthumous volume Recollections and Essays (public library; free ebook), Tolstoy’s inquiry peers into the deeper psychological layers and philosophical aspects of substance abuse and addiction.

 

Decades before the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous and nearly a century before alcohol abuse was recognized as a disease by the World Health Organization, Tolstoy writes:

What is the explanation of the fact that people use things that stupefy them: vodka, wine, beer, hashish, opium, tobacco, and other things less common: ether, morphia, fly-agaric [hallucinogenic mushrooms] etc.? Why did the practice begin? Why has it spread so rapidly, and why is it still spreading among all sorts of people, savage and civilized? How is it that where there is no vodka, wine or beer, we find opium, hashish, fly-agaric, and the like, and that tobacco is used everywhere?

Why do people wish to stupefy themselves?

Ask anyone why he began drinking wine and why he now drinks it. He will reply, “Oh, I like it, and everybody drinks,” and he may add, “it cheers me up.” Some those who have never once taken the trouble to consider whether they do well or ill to drink wine may add that wine is good for the health and adds to one’s strength; that is to say, will make a statement long since proved baseless.

Ask a smoker why he began to use tobacco and why he now smokes, and he also will reply: “To while away the time; everybody smokes.”

 

https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/12/30/why-do-men-stupefy-themselves-leo-tolstoy/

 

 

Let’s Get Cooking: Coconut Milk

Coconuts are an almost perfect food: highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6 and minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. Unlike cow’s milk, coconut milk is lactose free so can be used as a milk substitute by  those with lactose intolerance as well as vegans says, https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/ingredient-focus-coconut-milk

Given proper care and growing conditions coconuts palms grow rapidly, can produce up to 100 coconuts a year, and live to be 100 years old!  So if you are lucky enough to have access to coconuts – and they are grown in more than 90 countries around the world, one delicious way to use them is to make your own coconut milk.

In the May/June 2017 issue of Maui Nō Ka ‘Oi magazine, “Cuckoo for Coconuts,” Ryan Burden shares his knowledge and passion for coconuts, including this recipe for coconut milk:

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Ryan Burden, a young man from Hā’iku, Maui, on a mission to get more people to eat coconuts, niu in Hawaiian.

How to make homemade Coconut Milk:

Ingredients

  • One older, shaker coconut [almost fully mature, these coconuts have thick meat and are rich in coconut oil].
  • 1 or 2 rubber or spoonmeat coconuts [younger coconuts with jelly consistency meat]
Coconut-information-Milk-1-copy

You will need coconut meat

STEP 1

Split the coconut in half by tapping firmly around the circumference. Tip: You can use any hard surface, like the back of a machete, a cleaver, even a stone.

Scrape out the meat using a coconut tool or butter knife; cut into 2-inch pieces.

coconut milkINGREDIENTS
STEP 2

Fill a high-powered blender halfway with coconut pieces and top with water. Water from a sweet coconut is best, but you can use plain H20. If you do, add a teaspoon of honey and a pinch of salt.

Tip: Make sure the water is at least 73 degrees; otherwise, the oils won’t emerge.

Blend on high for 30 to 45 seconds. Tip: Coconut meat is tough. Gradually increasing the speed avoids overheating the blender.

STEP 3

Strain through a nutmilk bag or fine cheesecloth. Squeeze out every bit, and put into a jar.

Fill to the very top, leaving no air in the jar to spoil the water. Chill immediately.

After the jar is opened, milk will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator, but is best enjoyed within two days.

For the complete article including how to open a coconut, go to <https://mauimagazine.net/coconuts/

Have fun making – and drinking your homemade coconut milk.

Aloha, Renée

Thought for the Day: Compassion +

“Compassion isn’t weakness.  Compassion is strength,” says John Lewis, M.B.A. CEO and founder of Bad Ass Vegan

From: Thrive Vegan Magazine: Plant-Based Culture, Food, Lifestyle, Athletes, Health, Issue 7, p. 46-47.

During a podcast with Rich Roll, John Lewis also said,

“No one is responsible for your well being . . . take control of your own health,” says John Lewis.

Rich Roll notes,

John Lewis wasn’t always the exemplary model of health and advocacy he is today. Tipping the scales at 315 pounds by his freshman year in high school, things could have easily gone sideways for this young man growing up in Ferguson, Missouri.

But instead of drugs and gangs, he turned to sports, finding solace and refuge in basketball and football. Honing his skills in both high school and college helped him ditch his fat kid image and triggered his life-long love for healthy living.

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John Lewis

Nonetheless, John began experiencing some serious, negative health issues despite maintaining an athletic nature post-college. He sought medical advice and was informed that excessive animal protein consumption just might be the culprit. That advice, combined with his mother’s colon cancer diagnosis, catalyzed an experiment with vegetarianism. Little did he know, that experiment would change his life.

In short shrift, ditching meat resolved his health issues. More importantly, the lifestyle aligned with his values. So it wasn’t long before John jettisoned all animal products from his plate and went entirely vegan.

Needless to say, this was an unlikely move for a football loving gym rat. His friends were not amused.

But John never felt better. The lights went on, opening him to an entirely new way of living and being that brought his life path into focus.”

Be compassionate.  Be healthy.  Aloha, Renée

From: http://www.richroll.com/podcast/john-lewis/

Image from: http://www.miaminewtimes.com/restaurants/bad-ass-vegan-hosting-free-vegan-smart-brunch-in-wynwood-7602956

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What Foods Are Best?

We’ve just celebrated our annual Thanksgiving feast in the U.S.; the Christmas and New Year season with many gatherings and parties is ahead.  So we don’t balloon up in size, it’s a time to be particularly conscious of our eating choices.  But making conscious choices can be more than just looking at the calories we consume.

At the Bali Vegan Festival in October,  in the presentation, “Why Veganism is the Best Choice,” Judit Németh-Pach, the Hungarian Ambassador to Indonesia, provided many compelling facts and reasons to become vegan.

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Judith Németh-Pach provided compelling reasons to consider veganism – at the Bali Vegan Festival in Ubud.

One source she sited was EatingOurFuture.com with its compilation of many convincing articles and scientific studies.

Given our anatomy, what foods are best for humans?

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“As a group, vegetarians/vegans live longer than meat-eaters. Furthermore, vegetarians/vegans generally enjoy better health:

  • having less of the serious chronic diseases than the meat-eaters suffer;
  • with less of the associated disability and pain than the meat-eaters suffer; and
  • being less of a financial & social burden on their family and friends than are the meat-eaters with their higher rates of chronic degenerative disease.

Being healthier overall, vegetarians have more potential for the freedom & ability to live life to the full and independently for a longer time.”

 https://eatingourfuture.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/human-biology-indicates-our-optimal-food-diet-a-comparison-of-digestive-systems-for-frugivores-omnivores-carnivores-herbivores-hires.jpg

What food choices are sustainable?

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“Agriculture, particularly meat & dairy products, accounts for 70% of global freshwater consumption, [and] 38% of the total land use.”

Go to: https://eatingourfuture.wordpress.com/

How do food choices affect greenhouse gas emissions?

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Greenhouse gas emissions from different foods.

Yikes!  Nooooooo.  Low fat, organic cheese is worse than pork in creating greenhouse gases!! (I love good cheeses)!

What about eating fish and seafood?  Aren’t they good protein options?

“1/. The United Nations reports: “According to a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimate, over 70% of the world’s fish species are either fully exploited or depleted. The dramatic increase of destructive fishing techniques worldwide destroys marine mammals and entire ecosystems… oceans are cleared at twice the rate of forests…”
http://www.un.org/events/tenstories/06/story.asp?storyid=800

2/. “Global marine populations slashed by half since 1970: WWF… Populations of marine mammals, birds, reptiles and fish have dropped by about half in the past four decades, with fish critical to human food suffering some of the greatest declines… “Overfishing, destruction of marine habitats and climate change have dire consequences for the entire human population… The pace of change in the ocean tells us there’s no time to waste,” Lambertini [head of WWF International] said. “These changes are happening in our lifetime. We can and we must correct course now.”…”
http://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/world/global-marine-populations-slashed-by-half-since-1970-wwf/ar-AAelC44?li=AA59G3&ocid=iehp

3/. “Seafood hit by climate change, Australian study finds…  “There will be a species collapse from the top of the food chain down.”… Around 61 per cent of wild fish stocks are “fully fished” and 29 per cent “over-fished”, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Just 10 per cent are under-fished, the organization’s 2014 World Fisheries report said…”
http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/seafood-hit-by-climate-change-australian-study-finds-20151012-gk6xck.html

4/. “Rich countries pay zombie fishing boats $5 billion a year to plunder the seas…” – http://qz.com/225432/rich-countries-pay-zombie-fishing-boats-5-billion-a-year-to-plunder-the-seas/

And there is more –

The United Nations “urges global move to meat and dairy-free diet.”

So, what can we eat to be healthy — and have sustainable food sources?

If you give up meat, seafood, and dairy to eat french fries, you will not be healthy.  Vegans need to be conscious of their choices too.

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You can be healthy – and happy on a vegan diet

http://www.vegancoach.com/vegan-food-pyramid.html

So what about me?  Have I become a vegan?  I’ve been vegetarian since 2003 and that isn’t hard.  In fact, it is getting easier all the time with almost all restaurants and even gatherings in homes offering tasty vegetarian options.  However, giving up eggs and really good cheeses is a challenge for me.  Right now,  I’m an aspiring vegan – for my own health and for that of our planet.

eating-our-future

Grim – but true.

What about you?  What conscious choices about your food are you or could you be making?

Aloha, Renée

Banner image is of a healthy vegan choice at Paradiso  –  The World’s First Organic Vegan Cinema – and major sponsor of the Bali Vegan Festival. When you go to Ubud, Bali, be sure to go to Paradiso for daily movie screenings, family afternoons, workshops, thematic festivals, live music shows, art exhibitions, private events, and excellent food. http://www.paradisoubud.com/

Image –  https://www.facebook.com/baliveganfestival/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1769340653328856

 

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Let’s Get Cooking: Homemade Coconut Butter

Now more aware of the health benefits of coconuts, I’ve been seeing how I can get more of the wonderful power food.  Here’s a simple recipe for homemade coconut butter that you might want to try too.

Meagen, the Vegan Food Addict, says, “Coconut butter, sometimes referred to as creamed coconut, is becoming increasingly popular. With its popularity, however, it can be expensive and often difficult to find. The good news though is that you can still enjoy it…just make your own! If you have access to shredded coconut or coconut flakes, you are in luck.

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Coconut flakes. – Meagen’s photo

Check out this recipe:

Homemade Coconut Butter
Yields approximately 1 cup

4 cups unsweetened flaked coconut

Place coconut in the bowl of a food processor and process for 5-10 minutes*, or until smooth; stopping occasionally to scrape sides of bowl.

Store coconut butter in an airtight container at room temperature, in the fridge, or freezer. Coconut butter will begin to solidify after resting.

*Processing time may take more or less time depending on food processor”

Meagen has many more tasty recipes including Tikil Gomen, (Ethiopian Cabbage and Potatoes).  Check out her blog.

Coconut Butter and more from Meagen: ttps://veganfoodaddict.wordpress.com

Aloha, Renée

Coconuts – virgin coconut oil

Endless Benefits, Endless Uses – Coconut trees have been used for thousands of years for building materials, food, oil, milk, water, medicine, a high energy fuel source, and more. (In the 2010 movie Cast Away, Tom Hanks survived on coconuts – so we know how important they can be).

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Given proper care and growing conditions, coconut palms produce their first fruit in six to ten years, taking 15 – 20 years to reach peak production.  In good conditions, coconuts grow rapidly once established, can produce up to 100 coconuts a year, and live to be 100 years old.

Virgin or cold pressed (non-refined, non-bleached and non-deodorized) coconut oil is often described as a super oil, the “healthiest oil on earth,” and thanks to its important health benefits, it has been declared the new power food.  Extensive research confirms that those who use coconut oil are healthier, have less heart disease, cancer, and colon problems than unsaturated fat eaters.

In a Bali Advertiser feature article, Ines Wynn, notes,

“The Health Benefits of cold pressed Virgin Coconut Oil are numerous; its major properties include:

  • Nutrient rich:  It is nature’s richest source of lauric acid, which protects your heart by reducing total cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol.  It has a small amount of vitamins and minerals like choline, iron, and, important for cardiovascular health, vitamin E and vitamin K.
  • Thyroid-stimulating: Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids (triglycerides) that stimulate metabolism and give you more energy.
  • Diabetes inhibitor: Helps keep diabetes in check.  It does not produce an insulin spike in your bloodstream.  Instead it helps control blood sugar by improving the secretion of insulin.
  • Immune system supporter:  The rich lauric acid supports the body’s immune system.
  • Candida inhibitor:  Coconut oil has a good quantity of caprylic acid in it which is well known to kill off excess candida by targeting harmful bacteria.
  • Weight loss aid: Even though it is a fat, it actually helps with weight loss.  The medium chain fatty acids do not circulate in the bloodstream like other fats; they are sent directly to the brain
  • Brain nourishment: Studies show that it improves cognitive function, and stalls, or even reverses, neurodegenerative diseases in their early stages.
  • Skin protection: When applied externally, it forms a protective antibacterial layer shielding the infected body part.  Also, coconut oil speeds up the healing process of bruises by helping to repair damaged tissue.

Although refined vegetable oils are now known to have low heat tolerances and release toxins called aldehydes when heated to high temperature, Virgin Coconut Oil is heat resistant and due to its high levels of anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties does not go rancid even after one year at room temperature. Virgin Coconut Oil has no detrimental side effects and unlike other vegetable oils, it does not form harmful by-products.

Worldwide, eleven million farmers in 90 countries grow coconut.  Over 80% are situated in Asia-Pacific, with Indonesia and the Philippines being the largest producers.  Virtually all these farmers are poor and receive little benefit for their toil. Consequently they are not investing in replanting, and coconut plantations have declined as a result. Possibly as much as 30% of the Indonesian coconut plantation area is considered as senile, meaning very low productivity.

coconuts-drying

Drying coconut husks – Bal. rr photo

Generally, consumers are unaware that Virgin Coconut Oil may be produced in various ways.  Most virgin coconut oil in Indonesia is derived from coconut milk, generally as a by-product of the large desiccated coconut industry [copra].  In the same way, many consumers are unaware that most coconut water packed in Tetra Pak is made from mature coconut water derived from other bulk processing coconut industries.

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Tetra Pak containers

Image from: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetra_Pak&gt;.

However, virgin coconut oil is suitable for human consumption in its natural state immediately after extraction and filtration requiring no return to the original copra trade model of production” (27).

A good link for information about the difference between copra production of coconut oil (the most common and cheapest available coconut oil) and that of virgin coconut oil, go to http://www.naturepacific.com/page/36/learn-about-coconuts-%7C-virgin-coconut-oil-versus-coconut-(copra)-oil

In part, that article says,  a villager “first gathers coconuts that have fallen on the ground, cuts the nut in half and removes the white coconut meat. The coconut meat is then usually dried on a rack over a fire (they call them copra smokers) which helps to dry out the coconut meat and it turns a grey colour and has a rancid smell. The biggest and most abundant amount of wild coconuts are found in remote villages scattered across the Pacific and Asia. Sometime it can take up to 3-4 months before the villagers can get their bags of smoked copra to the big copra mills in town. The mills are usually situated 100’s of miles away from these villagers. The copra mills resemble a smaller version of a sugar crushing mill and processing of the copra is similar to that found in the sugar mills. The copra is pressed and because the coconut is very smoky or rancid they use chemicals to bleach and clean the oil. This happens in all the basic edible food oils today in the market place. This is also the reason why this style of COCONUT OIL (Copra) processing became known in the old days as poor man’s oil or dirty oil.”

albert copra

Sun drying copra (coconut meat) on Rabi Island, Fuji

The writer also warns, “Today because of the high demand for Virgin Coconut Oil many unscrupulous manufacturers [or companies that are more focused on making their shareholders happy] are getting cheap copra oils and running them through centrifuge spinning machines to clean up the oils and also state they are ORGANIC. While the centrifuges remove the smell and all flavour from the oils the Copra COCONUT OIL is a much thicker oil that will NOT quickly absorb into the skin and does contain TRANS FAT. Except for a higher level of lauric acid it is very similar to all other trans fat food oils on the market due to the processing. If you put this type of oil on your skin it is just that OIL and will clog the pores of your skin.”

Image and text from- http://www.naturepacific.com/page/36/learn-about-coconuts-%7C-virgin-coconut-oil-versus-coconut-(copra)-oil

This is again another example that we should know our farmers and how our food is produced and processed.

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However, today “in Bali and other parts of Indonesia, Kokonut Pacific, an internationally focused organization, is actively involved in establishing virgin coconut oil and down-stream value added opportunities [coconut water, coconut skim milk, and coconut flour. . .] for small scale coconut farmers, using an entirely different approach to making Virgin Coconut Oil.  By taking the processing right back to the farm level, it enables rural families to produce pure virgin oil within one hour of opening their coconuts.  These coconuts are grown and processed locally and organically, without the use of fertilizers or other chemical inputs. . . .

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Direct Micro Expelling® for Fresh Coconut Oil

Dr. Dan Etherington – a pioneer of VCO – from Kokonut Pacific Australia, invented DMR (Direct Micro Expelling) technology, a process that  produces pure, natural, virgin, cold-pressed coconut oil from fresh coconuts.  Currently, this technology is being used in Bali, Java, and Sulawesi where Kokonut Pacific works collaboratively with over 600 certified organic farms in projects designed to be models of sustainable healthy living for the individual and for the planet.

VCO is available in many retail outlets.  But be a discerning customer.  Not all oils labeled Virgin Coconut Oil are that.  Many are mixed with other vegetable oils and the labels do not always indicate that.  buy from a reputable palace and avoid the cheap varieties.

If you want to combine being good to your body with being good to your soul, look for SoleOil, an organic VCO marketed by Yayasan Solemen, one of the most visible NGS in Bali.

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SoleOil’s story is rather special.  Together with the Tree of Life Project Bali it aims to support the small-scale farmer project in Tabanan while receiving Rp 10k per bottle for Solemen’s many projects.  The SoleOil project is not only a way to support small-scale farmers, it also is a means to empower rural women whose access to a sustainable business is restricted by their location.

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VCO – SoleOil

From a food crop to a health crop, coconut is now becoming a sunrise industry.  It is best positioned to become the world’s healthiest sustainable plant-based edible oil.  At a time when concerns of agricultural productivity and global nutrition form a central part of policy development for all countries, the coconut palm offers an opportunity for a viable alternative to unsustainable, harmful mono-culture agricultural systems.  . .

When properly handled, coconut culture means zero disruption to biomass or peat soils.  No clearing of rain forest.  No displacement of local populations.  Coconut palms are a valuable, existing, in ground plant-based resource of healthy nutrition and numerous downstream products.

To read more about Virgin Coconut Oil and the DME production process, go to www.kokonutpacific.com.au

Text from: Wynn, Ines. “The Tree of Life Project in Bali.”  Bali Advertiser, 12 – 26 October, 2016, p. 27.

Be healthy.  Have coconuts in your life.

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A coconut to drink – and Virgin Coconut Oil dressing on my salad. Wonderful! rr photo

Aloha, Renée

Photos from: SoleOil, NaturePacific, & Kokonut Pacific.

Kiawe? That thorny tree a super-food?

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A beautiful kiawe bean – bright, no marks, sweet, nutrient rich, diabetic friendly.

On Maui, we enjoy many blessings: the Hawaiian culture of aloha and chant, beautiful beaches, volcanoes, rain forests, temperate weather, splendid sunrises and sunsets, outrigger canoe paddling, . . . a vacation paradise. However, we import about 90% of our food and fuel. In the middle of the Pacific Ocean – 2,336 miles from San Francisco and about 4,034 miles from Tokyo – we are very food and energy insecure.

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Ocean as far as we can see.

This is a fact of concern.

However, most of us in Hawaii have been over-looking a terrific food source – a much-maligned tree that will give you a painful puncture wound if you step on its thorn. Its beans have been used as cattle and pig fodder or for firewood (mesquite). Tough and hearty – often looking like dead, brown trees during dry conditions, but quickly becoming green with new growth after a rain, kiawe trees are on all the leeward coasts of the Hawaiian islands.

A recent workshop shared that the kiawe beans – from that non-native, drought and salt resistant invasive tree – is actually a local super food. Wild-food guru Sunny Savage says, “Millions of pounds of kiawe beans are just falling to the ground every year, completely and utterly unloved. This tree of life can produce up to 6 harvests per year” (Wild Food Plants of Hawaii, 111).

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Naturally sweet, bubbling kiawe tea

We don’t need to be food insecure in Hawaii if we learn how to hunt (not hard in Kihei and other dry areas in Hawaii), gather, sort, clean, dry, make flour, and create from recipes using kiawe bean pods.

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Tasha making ‘aina bars

Sunny Savage and Vince Dodge presented our Kiawe 101 hands-on Workshop in Kihei, Maui.   Vince, of Wai’anae Gold, mills kiawe beans into flour and makes delicious products such as ‘aina bars, a raw power bar from kiawe flour.

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Kiawe trees grow on the dry leeward coasts of the Hawaiian islands

Vince and Sunny told us that kiawe (aka mesquite /algarrobo), was introduced in 1826, by a French Jesuit priest who had stopped in Peru for a while on his way to Hawaii. Father Alexis Bachelot was impressed by the uses the Peruvians made of the tree and brought it here. A memorial plaque at the old Catholic Mission on Fort Street in Honolulu commemorates that very first tree; its stump is still there today.

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Vince and Sunny at the Kiawe 101 Workshop

In Hawaii, the seedpods became animal fodder and firewood but was not eaten by the people. In contrast, in the Americas, the Middle East, India and many other places where the tree is native, the dried pulverized bean pods were a revered staple food. Naturally sweet, nutrient dense and diabetic friendly, kiawe bean pod flour is a Hawaiian Super Food. All our islands are blessed with abundant kiawe forests.

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Kiawe tea in a coconut

Wai’anae Gold is working with families to produce food and create livelihoods for the future. For ten years Wai’anae Gold under the leadership of Vince Dodge has been on this path educating and encouraging  communities to return to the bounty that the `aina has provided for us all.

To see recipes, buy milled kiawe flour and other kiawe products direct, go to the Wai’anae Gold site:< http://waianaegold.com/ >

Vince says, “We are `Ai Pohaku – The Stone Eaters. Come and join us. He ali`i ka `aina. He kauwa ke kanaka. The land is chief, people its servants (`Olelo No`eau 531 Pukui 1983).”

For the workshop, Vince and Sunny shared how to hunt, gather, select, dry, and use kiawe. We got to taste the super sweet (but diabetic friendly) tea, and eat a meal of kiawe and coconut soup, with kiawe cornbread, kiawe tortillas, and to top it off for dessert, kiawe ‘aina bars: delicious, filling and nutritious!!

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Hunting for fallen kiawe beans

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We all loved the kiawe tea

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Sunny making kiawe tortillas

Vince is “The founder of ‘Ai Pohaku, Vince Kana‘i Dodge, is a papa (grandfather), educator, cultural practitioner and longtime resident of Wai‘anae where kiawe trees are plentiful.

He shares the story that one day in early 2006 on MA‘O Organic Farms a couple from Arizona shared that “mesquite” – the cousin of kiawe – was a staple of all the Southwest native peoples.  All those years ago, Gary told Vince that kiawe was a sweet, nutritious and diabetic-friendly food.

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At that time the Wai‘anae community was in the throes of a diabetic epidemic (about one-third of the people in Wai’anae had diabetics, including some as young as 7th grade). Imagine: a sweet, nutritious diabetic-friendly food growing in our backyards… Vince was called. We believe it is no accident that the concentration of kiawe and diabetes are in the same place.”

Last week, Vince was able to meet Gary Paul Nabhan that important visitor from 2006, who was speaking here on Maui for the organic agricultural festival.  🙂

 

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Eugi’s kiawe bean dryer – with Vince and Erika

Sunny Savage is host of the wild food cooking show Hot on the Trail, presenter at the  2014 TedxMaui, a foraging workshop guide, and author of the beautiful and inspiring Wild Food Plants of Hawaii.  To be connected to the land, to absorb important trace minerals and nutrition we aren’t getting from our processed food, Sunny encourages all of us to forage for at least one wild food each day.

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Vince showing us how to sort the kiawe beans

 

Yesterday, my son Johnny and I ran into each other. We had an hour to spare. We each took a bag and in no time walking along the beach under the shade of kiawe trees, we had them filled with bright, plump kiawe pods. Right now they are drying (inside my car with the windows rolled up)! We look forward to making our kiawe flour into pancakes, bread, soup, sparkling drinks . . .

Again this weekend, we have warnings of two hurricanes headed this way. But now besides our cans of beans and bottles of water for emergency use, we have the knowledge of how to sustain ourselves on the humble kiawe bean pods that are all around us.

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Johnny making ‘aina bars – 2 parts kiawe flour, 2 parts nut butter, 1 part honey, and a pinch of Hawaiian salt. We are ready for a hurricane!

What overlooked food source do you have nearby?

Nature is bountiful; we just need eyes to see – and people like Sunny and Vince to teach us.

Happy foraging.

Aloha, Renée

 

Barry’s Gleanings: Your Aching Neck

Some people complain that in-person relationships are being strained because many people spend much time on their cell phones, iPads, computers, and other such screens.

Here is another reason to limit screen time (or at least do it consciously).

In her August 2016 column, “For Your Health: Text neck troubles,” Jane Langille, reports:

“Dr. Kenneth Hansraj, a Costco member and chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation Medicine, in Poughkeepsie, New York, wondered why a 30-year-old male patient still suffered from neck pain long after Hansraj had surgically repaired a herniated disk in his back.  The man was unable to return to work in spite of months of physical therapy.  As a follow-up exam, the source of his pain was crystal clear: He admitted to spending four hours a day playing Angry Birds on his iPad and showed his doctor how he looked down at the screen. . . ”

Click on the link below to see the rest of this article and tips to help prevent “text neck.”

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From page 68 of The Costco Connection, printed page 65: http://www.costcoconnection.com/connection/201608?pg=NaN#pgNaN

 

 

Image from:  https://kimberlyjozwiakblog.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/woman-hunched-over-computer.jpg

Please, sit up, sit up  – bring your devices to eye level – every time.

Be healthy.

Aloha, Barry & Renee

Skeleton image from: <http://svmassagetherapy.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/slumpshoulder.jpg&gt;.

Barry’s Gleanings: Wine is Healthy – Here’s Why

Since alcohol often doesn’t do good things for a person’s brain, I’ve  wondered why wine is often touted as healthy – being good for your heart and a way to burn fat.  A Danish study may explain the paradox.

“In 2002, four Danish scientists began examining grocery receipts. This may sound like a waste of taxpayer dollars, but in fact it was the kind of experiment other scientists describe as “elegant.” For years, science had been grappling with the unexplained health benefits of wine—wine drinkers seemed more resistant to coronary heart disease and certain cancers, but no one knew why.

Predictably, there was a large-scale effort to rip wine apart in search of whatever compound was working its peculiar magic on the human body and turn it into a pill. (Resveratrol was one). The Danish group came at it from a different angle. They didn’t need a gas chromatograph. They needed receipts. They wanted to know what else all those healthy wine drinkers were buying when they visited the supermarket.

Altogether, they examined 3.5 million transactions from 98 supermarkets. They found that wine drinkers didn’t shop the same way as beer drinkers. Wine drinkers were more likely to place olives, low-fat cheese, fruits and vegetables, low-fat meat, spices, and tea in their carts. Beer drinkers, on the other hand, were more likely to reach for the chips, ketchup, margarine, sugar, ready-cooked meals, and soft drinks.

Perhaps the health of wine drinkers isn’t caused by wine so much as by the fact that wine drinkers like wine in the first place. The greatest predictor of health, these results suggest, doesn’t come down to this or that nutrient. It comes down to what a person finds delicious.”

–Adapted from The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor by Mark Schatzker   in “Very Short Book Excerpt – Vino Veritas” June 2015 The Atlantic Monthly (p. 17).

Pass the fine cheese and grilled vegetables.

A glass of wine with friends at sunset - wonderful

A glass of wine with friends at sunset – wonderful

Aloha & Cheers, Barry & Renée

Let’s Get Cooking: Cashew and Coconut Cream Cheese from Chef Simon Jongenotter – in Bali

“Cashew cream cheese is rich, slightly tangy, and incredibly satisfying,” notes Chef Simon.

Cashew and Coconut Cream Cheese (gluten free, dairy free, & vegan)

Ingredients:

– 2 cups ( .47 L) of cashew nuts. Soaked in ample water for 12 hours. Drained and rinsed.

– 2 cups ( .47 L) of coconut milk

– 1 teaspoon (4.47 grams) of soy sauce

– 1 teaspoon (4.47 grams) of sea salt

– 1 teaspoon (4.47 grams) of agar agar (a seaweed based thickener, available at Asian grocery stores). You can play around with this quantity. The more you use, the firmer your cheese will be.

Process:

In a blender, combine cashews, oil, 1 cup of the coconut milk, (if you have coconut yogurt, you can use 1 cup of this instead to result in a more tangy cream cheese), plus the soy sauce and salt. Blend at high speed until very smooth.

In a saucepan, combine the other cup of coconut milk and agar agar, bring to a boil while stirring. Boil for 2 minutes.

With the blender running, introduce the boiled milk/agar mixture to the rest of the ingredients. Do this while the mixture is still hot and runny. When completely combined, pour into a container and allow to set in the fridge for several hours.

Chef Simon says that recipes such as this one aren’t replacements for cow’s milk. Instead, they are worthy for the most discerning foodies out there, vegan or not. “If their creaminess, tanginess, and plain satisfaction factor remind you of dairy, well, lucky you” (UbudLife Vol. 21, Dec.-Feb. 2015, p. 43).

Enjoy.

Aloha & Sanpai jumpa, Renée

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