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Archive for May, 2009

Raw Green Vegetable Soup

The summer is the perfect time for light, cool, refreshing meals. A raw soup, which is completely uncooked, is extraordinarily nutritious and easy to make in your blender. It’s very important to include raw vegetables in your daily diet as they still have all of their natural enzymes and nutrients intact. Heating destroys some of these compounds. I also urge you to buy organic when you can. Your exposure to pesticides will be much greater if you’re eating a lot of non-organic produce.

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This is what I call a Creamy Asparagus Soup, but there’s much more than asparagus in here. I don’t follow a specific recipe to make a raw soup; instead I include a wealth of raw vegetables, fresh herbs, and taste it along the way. Here’s a basic outline of what to include.

Template for Raw Soups
Raw vegetables. I always include a leafy green like kale or swiss chard. After that, try zucchini, cucumber, asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, or any other raw vegetable. This should be the base of your soup.
Flavor enhancer. Raw onions and raw garlic both add delicious flavor to soup, but remember that they are much stronger when raw than cooked. Both onions and garlic have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Fresh herbs. Fresh herbs have medicinal properties and will give your soup a distinct flavor. I like basil or cilantro; experiment with your favorite herbs. You’ll want to use a lot if you’re making a large batch of soup. When I fill my blender, I use an entire bunch of basil or cilantro (and sometimes I could use more!) I would stick to no more than two different herbs, or else your soup’s flavor may be too complex.
Lemon juice. Lemon juice is extremely alkalizing to the body and adds a subtle tang to your soup. Don’t buy bottled lemon juice; buy lemons and squeeze the juice yourself.
Cream. Okay, not cream exactly, but something that will make your soup creamy. Avocados are a great alkalizing nutrient source and will make your soup creamy. I also like to add raw cashews to make the soup creamier and slightly sweeter. Experiment with other raw nuts and seeds, too.
Sea Salt and Pepper. A little sea salt is definitely necessary to make your soup palatable. Regular iodized table salt is heavily processed, so opt for sea salt instead. Crushed black pepper adds a nice addition, as does cayenne pepper if you like your soup spicy.
Water. You need a little liquid to get your soup to the desired consistency. How thick you want your soup is totally up to you. I like a thick, creamy soup.

Some Tips:
1. I use my Vita-Mix, an extremely high-powered blender, to make my soups. The Vita-Mix has no trouble liquifying whole vegetables. If your blender is not so strong, make sure to chop your vegetables into smaller pieces and add enough water. You also may need to process your soup in small batches.
2. Don’t forget to test your soup after adding all the ingredients. See if it’s a good texture, creamy enough, flavorful enough, etc. When making a raw soup, you can keep adding more of a certain ingredient until you’re totally satisfied with the result.
3. The soup keeps well in the fridge for about a week. It may keep longer, but mine has always been finished by then! Just be aware that the soup will thicken slightly after sitting in the fridge.

Try the recipe out, and let me know some of your favorite combinations of ingredients!

-Emily

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Thanks for all those who tuned into LifeTips radio to hear me talk about about my book, 101 Natural Healthy Eating Tips. For those who missed it, you can hear the interview at http://www2.webmasterradio.fm/life-tips/2009/healthy-eating-and-virtual-shopping/. The show is about 50 minutes long, but my segment is in the first 15 minutes. Go have a listen!

-Emily

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This Wednesday at 4pm EST, I’ll be interviewed on LifeTips online radio show. LifeTips is the company that published my book, 101 Natural Healthy Eating Tips. It is a talk radio format that focuses on the green movement and people who are changing the world in really great ways. I’ll be doing a brief interview promoting and discussing my book.


You can listen to LifeTips online radio show at
www.lifetips.com/about/radio-show.html.

-Emily

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Most of us have some familiarity with our immune systems. We know it keep us from getting sick or catching a cold. But what else is our immune system responsible for? Is it something that we should consider on a daily basis?

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Absolutely! The immune system takes care of everything exterior that comes in contact with our bodies. Especially with all the talk of Swine Flu, it’s important to remember just how necessary a healthy immune system is. Catching a cold, virus, or just feeling run-down is often not the fault of the germs or conditions with which you’ve come in contact. Our bodies are designed to come in contact with all sorts of organisms and germs without problem. Why do some people seem to always be sick, while others never catch a cold? Why do some people always seem allergic and stuffy? Long before the days of cold medicine, antibiotics, and extremely sterile conditions, we were going up against germs and pollen on a regular basis. We started over-medicating and over-sanitizing, but our rate of sickness hasn’t really improved. And why is that? Because it’s all about the immune system.

The role of the immune system in mild allergy symptoms is often overlooked. Especially if you’ve recently acquired seasonal allergies, or if you’ve noticed your symptoms worsening, you should take a look at your immune health. An allergy is basically a small irritant to which the immune system overreacts, giving you itchy eyes, sneezes, and other uncomfortable symptoms. When the immune system is stronger, the body is more inclined to deal with these irritants without the uncomfortable symptoms. Many people dismiss allergies as something that cannot be helped without some kind of medication. Strengthening your immune system through diet, as well as taking Vitamin C (a natural antihistamine), can drastically improve mild allergy symptoms.

So, how exactly do you strengthen the immune system? Many health food stores and natural markets sell immune-boosting supplements. These can be helpful, but they are no replacement for the necessary diet changes that should be made to boost immune health.

Boost Your Immune System:
Avoid all sugar. This includes in beverages, foods, processed foods, and even natural sugars. Natural sugars like fruit are fine in moderation, but if you feel run-down, it’s beneficial to avoid them.
Emphasize vegetables, especially green. Vegetables are dense sources of all the vitamins and nutrients we need for fully-functioning bodies and minds. Green vegetables are alkalizing, which means they make the body a harder place for bacteria and viruses to thrive.
Kick the substances. Alcohol, cigarettes, and caffeine all deplete the immune system. Avoid them entirely! A little alcohol or caffeine can be used in moderation when you’re feeling well. Cigarettes are obviously worth eliminating.
Eat immune-boosting foods. Fresh, raw garlic is an excellent immune-booster. Aim for 3-5 cloves a day if you’re feeling run down. Cooked garlic is still somewhat effective, but raw is best.
Stay hydrated and sleep enough. These are obvious, but worth mentioning. Make sure you’re drinking water all throughout the day. If you have a coffee vice, make sure you drink a glass of water with your morning coffee. Also aim for 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Many don’t feel rested with only seven hours, but you’ll find as you strengthen your immune system in other ways, you’ll feel more rested on less sleep.
Supplement, if you need it. I always recommend optimizing your diet before turning to supplements. If you’ve already done the above, you can look to probiotics, or healthy bacteria. Probiotics are sold at natural food stores and are normally refrigerated. These healthy bacteria help keep your intestinal flora in balance. Since a large portion of the immune system is in the digestive system, keeping your digestion healthy and regular has great immune benefits. Probiotics can also be found naturally in yogurt (look for greek yogurt or yogurt with no added sugar) or other naturally cultured foods like kefir or kimchi. Immune-boosting supplements come in a variety of forms. Some are simply vitamin supplements, which shouldn’t be necessary if you’re eating a vitamin-rich diet. Others are extracts of medicinal mushrooms or of immune-boosting foods like garlic. These are worth trying if you feel you have covered all the other aspects of immune health. I like a simple Vitamin C supplement (500mg) to help alleviate mild allergy symptoms or to take if I feel I may be getting sick.

As you can see, there are a lot of things we can do to improve our immune health that don’t involve taking poisonous medical concoctions or mysterious drugs with endless side effects. A quick fix never really works, so invest in your health by making the necessary dietary changes.

Be well,
Emily

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