Sunday, November 18, 2012

Finally Some Sanity!!!

Rabbi Amar: 'Bug-free' vegetables dangerous

Israel's chief Sephardic rabbi warns that increased use of pesticides poses serious health risk, recommends buying regular vegetables and cleaning them 'in the old-fashioned way'
Published: 11.06.12, 07:01 / Israel Jewish Scene
Israel's Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar says that eating "bug-free" leafy vegetables poses a health risk due to the increased use of pesticides.
Amar issued a halachic ruling following lab tests conducted on such crops, in which he recommends that the public purchase regular leafy vegetables and clean them "in the old-fashioned way."

The chief rabbi's ruling may have dramatic consequences, as it could prove to be disastrous for one of the current generation's most significant developments in the field of kashrut.

The halachic-agricultural innovation, generated in the Gush Katif greenhouses, has created a real change in the kosher kitchen, making it almost unnecessary to check leafy vegetables for bugs – a task considered particularly difficult and frustrating.

The rabbi's ruling, which took several months to write and stretches over dozens of pages, is aimed at refuting the claim that leafy vegetables cannot be completely cleared of bugs, and that since the special growth method was invented – there is a halachic obligation to stick to it.

According to Amar, insects can be removed even after the vegetables are grown, as Jews have done throughout the generations.

The rabbi, who presents scientific findings to back his ruling, says that many farmers use prohibited pesticides, or spray a much higher dosage than recommended, in a way that put the public's health at risk.

Amar adds that there is no reason why consumers buying "bug-free" produce should waste their money for such little benefit at the expense of other basic food products.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Natural Strategies for Healthier-Looking Skin

Natural Strategies for Healthier-Looking Skin…
Source: Dr. Mercola

  1. Avoid eating grain carbohydrates, especially wheat – Bread, cereal, pasta, rice, potatoes, and corn can cause surges in insulin production. Instead, eat vegetable carbs because your body can typically digest them more easily. This is true even for whole grains.
  2. Consider a gluten-free diet – Particularly if you suffer from gluten intolerance, a gluten-free diet can potentially help you avoid toxins being pushed through your skin due to the intolerance.
  3. Eliminate/Reduce sugar in your diet – Like grains, sugar (particularly refined sugar) causes an insulin spike which can lead to less-than-desirable skin.
  4. Establish the proper balance of gut bacteria – Eating fermented foods and/or taking a high-quality probiotic supplement can promote a healthy balance of gut flora and support your immune system.
  5. Drink plenty of fresh pure water – Hydrating your body facilitates cell growth and regeneration, elimination of wastes, and helps remove dead skin cells. Hydration can enhance your skin tone as well.
  6. Choose raw milk over pasteurized – Better yet, due to the iodine found even in raw milk, it may be best to temporarily eliminate all milk in the interest of healthier-looking skin.
  7. Eliminate ALL sodas, juice, and energy drinks – These drinks are often loaded with sugar, artificial flavoring, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners and artificial colors (dyes). As far as juices, eat the fruit in moderation instead.
  8. Eat for your Nutritional Type (NT) – Knowing your NT will help you determine the ideal amount of carbohydrates you should be eating and help you fine-tune each meal to just what's right for you.
  9. Optimize your vitamin D levels – Vitamin D is crucial for establishing a healthy immune system and to help promote healthy-looking skin.
  10. Reduce your stress – Research suggests that changes in skin often correlate with increased stress.
  11. Exercise regularly – Getting plenty of high-intensity exercise helps your body flush out toxins, including those in the pores of your skin. The more you sweat, the more you flush unwanted contaminants out of your pores.
  12. Get a good night's rest – Your body's time for rejuvenating is at night while you sleep. And this applies to your skin as well, as it can help promote a cleaner, clearer complexion.
  13. Naturally cleanse and moisturize your skin – Avoid toxic skin care products with risky chemical ingredients. They can cause more skin problems than they solve. (Suggested to use Organic Certified ingredients and only products without parabens and SLS. I only use my own whole and homemade products which you can find recipes all over the internet.)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Fat Is Beautiful!

While researching the web for eating plans today I found plenty of bad information. Not just bad- dangerous. I'm always looking for something that speaks to me. I'm interested in why we get fat and what is the real issue with obesity. So far the most healthy and sound plan, from all the reading I have done over the last 4 years, seems to be the Paleo Diet and second or even equally would be Julia Ross's Diet Cure. I haven't read them all mind you but from what I have seen these are the most SATisfying diets, and the closest to the way we as humans have always eaten. I am a frum Jew so I wont use and Paleo type figures here. But I do think that grains cause many people problems especially if not prepared properly. I do think it's important to look back at anthropological evidence to see what people ate and were at their healthiest despite lack of "modern medical care" and food pyramids. People ate according to tradition and availability. There is one thing all civilizations were not afraid of and that was fat, namely saturated fats.

 I cant understand these diets that promote low fat. I cant think of a faster way to become grouchy and fail at a diet than eating low fat. Normally these diets replace fat with more fruits and grains and don't realize the dangerous consequences. Blood sugar for one. Grains and fruits can cause major upset to the blood sugar balance causing insulin resistance which is why many people cant stay on low-fat diets for very long. Often they gain back their weight and then some. Fat stabilizes blood sugar spikes. SATurated fats are SATisfying. I learned that one from Julia Ross in her fantastic book "The Diet Cure". It's true. Coconut oil is one fat that you dont have to be afraid of. Many have wrote it off as a bad fat because it's saturated and often confuse saturated fats with trans-fats as one in the same. Even the medical establishment doesnt seem to get the difference. The truth is we have been eating coconut oil and coconuts for many centuries and only in the last 50 years when we totally villianized saturated fats and replaced them with Poly Unsaturated Vegetable Oils, or refined nut and seed oils, like canola, corn, cottonseed, soybean, etc, have the rates of heart disease exploded to be the number one killer in America.

We replaced butter with margerine, a substance that our body cant even recognize and called it "heart smart" and ate it exclusively as if our ancestors for generations were misled and poor for not having this modern invention. We need to get back to our roots with food. I am a big advocate for dumping anything from your diet that you cant identify the source. just eat the real thing and forget the fake stuff... even if it tastes good! It was made in a laboratory! It will make you into a Frankenstein in no time!

Coconut oil can actually help in weight loss because it metabolizes fast. Quickly curbs hunger and has a ton of additional health benefits.It's one of my favorite things all around. I use it as a moisturizer, toothpaste, deodorant, and in my smoothies homemade chocolates, cookies, spreads, cooking... the list is endless!

Butter from grass fed sources (which you can tell because it is very yellow) is very high in vitamin K which is important because it works synergistically to process vitamins A&D in the body. Meaning it's best when eaten together. Think butter with eggs.

Making sure we get enough fat in our diets, meaning at least 3 tablespoons of added butter, coconut, olive or palm oil (even tallow or schmalz) a day is going to keep you feeling more stable, in a better mood, keep your blood sugar in check (provided you are keeping your sweets and starches to a low-moderate amounts) and your weight loss more successful. Carbs in my opinion are the real enemy and NOT fat!

Wishing you all much hatzlacha with keeping healthy and fit!
Shabbat Shalom,

Monday, July 30, 2012

Please DONT pass the tofu!

During the 9 days before Tisha B' Av, I thought I would go crazy from not eating the proper amount of protein my body needed, happily today I was able to satisfy my hunger. Being on a Paleo type diet during that time wasnt easy.

I know many people were eating tofu in addition to eggs, legumes and fish. In Israel Tofu comes in all matter of forms from famous companies such as Tivol. Admittedly, I used to buy A LOT of this convenience food in the form of hot dogs, burgers and corn schnitzel.

For the past 3, almost 4 years we haven't touched that stuff, but unfortunately it seeps into my oldest son's afternoon lunch which is provided at school. I really don't understand it at all. I mean when you price it out it's no cheaper than real meat or chicken. But because it's so loaded with MSG they know the kids will eat it. Many people I know mistake these things for health food because anything with tofu in it must be healthy right? They even add it as filler to frozen hamburger here in Israel (check the label!)and put a little green leaf symbol on it so you think it's healthier than pure red meat, "why, its lower in that nasty saturated fat right"? Well consider this before you grab your next serving of soy, whether in the form of meatless meats, soy milk, soy formula, or even straight tofu... most soy beans, about 94%, as of 2011 are genetically modified or "GMO", that means the seeds have been adulterated in a lab so they have a self acting pesticide that protects it from infestation, which means really that you are also ingesting the pesticide and herbicide, almost all corn is like this too.
Here is a link about soy and children

Also Dr. Mercola talks about soy extensively, here is one article

I know there are several articles on the subject from all angles out there but one thing I want to bring up that is the most disturbing is that soybean consumption has been traditionally used for one thing... suppressing sexual desires. It is a known fact that monks were fed tofu to make them "remain monks" so to speak, not to have any inappropriate thoughts, so I can imagine what it's doing to our kids! Isoflavones are estrogen mimickers. No wonder our daughters are reaching puberty earlier than ever. I wonder if this has any correlation with the rise in infertility in our populations.

Everything is from Hashem but we also have to do our hishtadlut and guard our health. Please consider this before you buy those convenience foods. Soybean oil is lurking in almost all processed foods as is soy flour which acts as a dough conditioner in most store bought breads. It increases shelf life. I had a loaf of whole wheat bread that actually lasted in the cupboard for over two weeks before it was attacked by mold, and you know it was still as soft as the day I bought it. This may be a boon for some but it made me wonder if I was feeding my kids "frankenfood"? You will never have homemade bread last like that unless it has some soy flour and some hydrogenated fat in it.

Many people argue that soy is a traditional food and Asians have been eating it for a long time. That's only a small point. Asians eat it as a condiment and not as a staple protein. In the west it is eaten as a protein replacement instead of a little accent once in a while. Also the beans have been so adulterated that it cant even come close to the fermented soy products that Asian cultures consumed. These foods like nato, miso, tempe and aged soy sauce are far different than GMO junk foods that many people eat daily.

So the message here is soy is NOT a health food and read your labels because it's popping up in almost everything.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Shabbat Shalom, a recipe too!

It's Friday morning, Shabbat is coming... the blessed end to the week. Winding down but still so much to do. Of course the blog takes priority over making challah right? ;). It's ok these are long Erev Shabbatim it will all get done. I have been feeling very unmotivated the past few days because of the Hamsin we are having here, it was 102F on Wednesday, and yesterday was up there too. It's supposed to really break tomorrow so I will be looking forward to enjoying the food I will prepare today without sweating over my plate.

The 9 days to Tisha B'Av has just begun, so there are many restrictions as to what we can enjoy now. We are mourning the destruction of our Temple in Jerusalem, so we do not swim, cut hair, bathe for enjoyment, listen to music, have weddings, etc.

We also do not eat meat.

This is presenting some anxiety for me actually. I'm wondering what exactly will I be serving my family this week? I am so reliant on chicken and meat as staples that I'm not sure what will be for 9 days straight and 3 meals a day to provide that protein. There are basically fish, eggs, and beans. I dont eat beans. But my kids enjoy them. Actually Shabbat you are supposed to eat meat even during the 9 days because mourning isn't allowed on the sabbath. So really its 3 less meals...

During the week I will need to get creative with casseroles and fish dishes. I will order a large quantity of salmon from the fresh fish market and some cheaper fish to supplement. I suppose it's good to have a break and have something lighter. The focus is supposed to be on what we have lost.

So tonight my family will have Challah from spelt and whole wheat, I will make some dips, like techina, sun dried tomato spread, matbucha, and some green salads, also a coleslaw made with home made aioli mayo. Which I will be making in my Vitamix. But you dont have to. Also chicken and rice. The chicken will be prepared in a spontaneous way, because this is how I cook... without a plan and just go where my inspiration takes me.

Ailoi (From Mother Earth News, doubled)

(photo credit:On Da House)

2 egg yolk (preferably from organic, pastured chickens)
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, diced
Pinch salt
1 twist freshly ground pepper
1.5 cups extra virgin olive oil
Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
Fresh herbs, chopped (optional)


In a food processor, blend all the ingredients except the oil for about 1 minute, then slowly — very slowly! — add the oil in a stream and continue to process until creamy and smooth. Adjust seasonings as needed, and feel free to add a pinch of cayenne or some chopped herbs.

For the coleslaw I just mix with the aioli with a little more lemon juice and some fresh cracked black pepper and a little Herba Mare seasoning to julienned cabbage and carrots, it is also a wonderful mayo for potato salad. I actually love it on anything!

Shabbat shalom!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Food vs. Vitamin

I have an arsenal of supplements that I take partly because of my wonky thyroid. I prefer to get my vitamins and minerals from food, and I try to eat a variety of fresh whole foods to do that. But sometimes you have to wonder if the food your eating is really as high in vitamins and minerals as the charts claim.

These days, farming practices vary hugely and you never know the growing conditions and if the soil is being attended to properly to live up to those numbers. Is the soil where your fruit and vegetables are being grown mineral rich and enriched with compost and organic minerals, like eggshells for added calcium for example? You really never know unless you know where all of your produce is coming from and you actually visit the farm and speak to the growers. Thats assuming you are buying organic produce. If not you will probably never know and should assume there is not even crop rotation and you are probably getting a lot of watery tasteless produce. I think flavor is a good indication.

I listened to another Real Food Summit last night, Paul Check spoke about where, how and why's of buying organic food. He spoke about buying local in the farmers market and speaking with the growers. Asking questions. Here in Israel we have a shuk, an overwhelming hodgepodge of vendors selling everything from produce to baked goods to clothing. There really isn't anything that I know of that's organic there and I actually dont know where these vendors get their produce at all. I have yet to see an organic farmers market here in Israel, Maybe someone will think of it in Tel Aviv. For now I buy from a woman who organizes produce and groceries, all organic from many organic growers around Israel. So far I am pretty happy with it and I'm going purely on assumption that it's more nutritious. It definitely tastes better.

Back to the point, how do you use this system to ensure that what your getting has exactly "x"minerals and "x" vitamins encased in the fruit or vegetable without a lab test kit? If I know that I must have 400mc of selenium a day to support the thyroid I want to make sure thats exactly what I'm getting. I have decided to take a supplement to make sure. I used to eat 4 Brazil nuts a day and that's fine if you have no pressing issue but just want to try and get everything from whole food, get your iodine from sea weed etc.

Some people however cant rely of the inconsistencies of our modern growing conditions and need to know they are getting exactly what they need.
I am very big into getting in the sun for vitamin D and feel its important to eat those food sources of vitamin D as well, like eggs, liver, etc. But I think taking Cod Liver oil is an important factor too (For equal A&D ratio). And if absolutely necessary to take a Lanolin sourced Vitamin D supplement. I also take B12 since my levels had dropped dangerously low from being vegan. These are not things to take lightly.If you feel bad have your vitamin and mineral levels tested. A simple blood test can tell you a lot. So in general I think its a combination of a good diet go ahead and make sure you are eating techina for calcium and sea weed for iodine but if your levels are low in anything it might not be enough. Some people have absorption issues especially if there is an underlying gut issue like celiac or leaky gut. Weigh it out.

If you have a b12 count of below 100 like I did you really dont have a choice. I went for shots. Even though at first I felt defeated I got over it very quickly once I started feeling normal again. Also if you are deficient in any vitamin it might be a good idea to find out why. There are correlations to many of these issues having to do with absorption and underlying health issues. Like thyroid, celiac, etc. A lot of investigation, listening to experts in the field of alternative medicine and safe experimentation is what I do. Try and get levels up with whole foods and if you are stuck then try to buy the best supplement possible.

Unfortunately the planet that we were given to care for has been deeply abused. You have to check everything. We're all on a journey to feeling our best, with Hashem's help we will all have success.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Finally Found A Name!

Whew! Well I think this is it, I finally found a name for this blog that I'm happy with and that sums it all up. I really hope I can keep it up. The reason I decided to focus on the "Kosher-ness" of this blog is because I think a.) There isn't really any one else talking about Jews and Homesteading and b.) I think there are plenty of bloggers out there talking about all other types of homesteading! So there is a gap to fill. I may not always have profound advice, but I hope to share my journey and how I'm managing my aspiring homestead. My homestead is in a beginning and dream stage. I'm in a relatively small space and am dreaming of moving to a larger property. In the meantime I'm trying to implement certain ideas as they are relevant to my space. I hope whoever reads this gains something and I hope I can teach what I know.