Common Is Not A Bad Word

I have a great spaghetti sauce recipe that I got from my mom many years ago.

I make it A LOT! It’s a family favourite.

In fact, it may just have been the first meal that I cooked when I got married.

Fast track a few years from that first meal and I became a nutritionist. And with that I thought, it became incumbent upon me to nutricize everything that we ate.  A pinch of chia.  A dash of hemp.

Well the team started to revolt.  Old favs, like gran’s spaghetti sauce, fell from grace.

And here is the thing.  The spaghetti sauce is a simple recipe made up of healthy ingredients.

I learned my lesson quick and hard. Don’t try and fix it if it’s not broken.

One of the seasonings that I use in my spaghetti sauce recipe is Black Pepper, a very common seasoning that I think is under appreciated and quite honestly not given the respect that it deserves.

Heap On Those Seasonings!

Herbs and spices play a big role in the kitchen and flavouring food is only of their amazing skills.

Have a look:

  • The strong aromatic flavour of herbs and spices stimulates the palette and the digestive juices
  • Each culinary herb plays some role in the GI tract
  • Every herb and spice have health promoting phytonutrients

And there is a growing body of evidence to support the notion that culinary herbs and spices have multiple anticancer characteristics including antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-tumorigenic properties.

Health Benefits Of Black Pepper

So back to that common old everyday spice Black Pepper.  Black Pepper is harvested from a flowering vine and cultivated for its fruit, the peppercorn.  Usually the peppercorn is dried and used as a seasoning.

Along with its often-partnered pal salt,  Black Pepper is used in many, many recipes that we google.

And it truly does bring a lot to the party.

Here are some of the amazing health benefits that Black Pepper has to offer:

√It stimulates the taste buds which signals the stomach to secret Hydrochloric Acid (HCL)

√It helps prevent the formation of gas

√It promotes sweating and urination 

√It is an antioxidant and  an antibacterial

√It is an anti-inflammatory

And perhaps its greatest benefit is that it aids in the absorption of other nutrients. 

Black Pepper has been shown to enhance the absorption of calcium and selenium as well as beneficial plant compounds such as those found in green tea and turmeric

Black Pepper deserves its spot on the top shelf of our spice rack and is a great example that sometimes, often times, common is just fine!


References

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27529277/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29497610/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/black-pepper-benefits#710.-Other-benefits

 

 

Why You Need to Include Bee Products in Your Anti-Cancer Diet

Honeybees do and make amazing things!  We are all familiar with honey but in addition to this sweet nectar of the bees, they also produce other health promoting goodness that are great to include in your anti-cancer diet.

Let’s take a look!

Bee Propolis

Bee Propolis is made by honeybees through a fascinating process of mixing saliva and beeswax. These ingenious little buzzers use propolis to seal and protect their hives. Bee propolis is high in antioxidants containing various flavonoids, fatty acids, amino acids and a variety of vitamins.

Health benefits you ask?

Here are just a few.

Bee Propolis:

🐝 Aids in digestion

🐝 Improves immunity

🐝 Is anti-viral

🐝 Is anti-bacterial

🐝 Can be effective in relieving mucositis brought on by chemotherapy

Bee propolis is sold as a tincture, spray, paste or capsules so you would buy it in the form appropriate for what you want to use it for.

Chrysin is a polyphenol found in bee propolis (and honey as well).

Like many other flavonoids, chrysin has free-radical scavenging, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anticancer activities (Mani 2018). Although few human studies have been conducted with chrysin, animal studies and in vitro studies suggest that it may protect against DNA damage (George 2017) and modulate several cell-signaling pathways involved in cancer progression, including those affecting inflammation, cell survival, cell growth, new blood vessel growth, and metastasis (Kasala 2015).

Bee Pollen

Bee pollen comes from the pollen that collects on the bodies of bees as they go flower to flower.

It is a mixture of pollen, saliva, and nectar or honey.

Bee pollen:

🐝 Is a complete protein

🐝 Is full of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and lipids

🐝 Increases energy

🐝 May help to lower blood pressure

Bee pollen is available in most health food stores.  They are tiny little gold nuggets and can easily be added to smoothies, mixed in with salads and sprinkled on top of yogurt.

Royal Jelly

Royal Jelly is a gelatinous substance produced by honeybees to feed the queen bees and larvae.

Royal Jelly:

🐝 Is rich in nutrients and anti-oxidants

🐝 May help to regulate blood sugar

🐝 Is anti-bacterial and anti-viral

🐝 May help to support a healthy immune system

It is most commonly sold in its jelly form or in capsules.

Honey

Honey is the most well known of the bee creations. It has a wonderful flavour and is a much healthier sweetener than regular sugar.

Honey:

🐝 Is a prebiotic food. It has oligosaccharides that can promote the growth of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria

🐝 Possesses antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, apoptotic, and antioxidant properties

🐝 Is the oldest wound-healing agent known to mankind

Carbohydrates dominate the composition of honey taking up approximately 95–97% of its dry weight. Honey also includes proteins, vitamins, amino acids, minerals, and organic acids.

Evidence has shown the presence of nearly thirty types of polyphenols in honey. Polyphenol levels in honey vary depending upon the floral source, the climatic and geographical conditions.

Sore Throat Remedy

Got a sore throat?  Try this!

Mix together:

  • 1 cup warm (not boiling) water
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ½ lemon, juice

Drink up to soothe your sore throat.


References:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29161583/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5549483/

https://www.greenmedinfo.com/article/propolis-contains-compound-which-inhibits-triple-negative-breast-cancer-animal

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3985046/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31438508/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2221169115303233

https://mmed.mosuljournals.com/article_159191_aa1b9268093c56c786ff149a3fd30d26.pdf

https://academic.oup.com/fqs/article/1/2/107/3860141

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5424551/

 

 

 

 

 

 

fasting insulin levels

Why Is It Important to Know Your Fasting Insulin Level?

Insulin is a hormone.  It is made and secreted by the pancreas.

Functions of Insulin

The functions of insulin include:

  • Regulation of fats, proteins and carbohydrate metabolism
  • Helping cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream
  • Helping to regulate levels of glucose in the bloodstream. Insulin helps to remove the glucose from the blood and put it into fat and tissue cells where it can be stored for energy.

The production of insulin is stimulated by eating. When all is running tickety-boo, insulin rises when we consume food, does its job and then goes back to its resting levels.  Our bodies always need some circulating insulin, even when we are not eating.

When food has not been consumed for a period of time, usually between 12-20 hours, this level of insulin is called the fasting insulin level.

If our bodies stop responding well to insulin, in many cases due to poor diet and lifestyle choices, this can lead to a condition called insulin resistance.  In the earlier stages of insulin resistance, the pancreas will notch up its production of insulin to keep glucose levels normal.  So if your fasting glucose levels are tested within this paradigm, all may look well.  However you may not be getting an accurate picture of what is truly going on.  Because while your blood sugar level may be within normal range, it could be due to your body compensating for blood sugar issues by elevating your insulin levels.

Insulin resistance in its early stages does not often present with symptoms. Symptoms begin to appear once insulin resistance leads to secondary effects such as higher blood sugar levels. When this happens, the symptoms may include:

  • Lethargy
  • Hunger
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Weight gain around the middle (belly fat)
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels

Many diseases are linked to elevated fasting insulin levels including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Type II diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Migraine headaches
  • Increased risk of heart attack and stroke

A simple blood draw, testing for your fasting insulin level, could be a very important indicator of your health.

Ways to decrease insulin resistance

There are diet and lifestyle changes that can go a long way to decreasing insulin resistance:

  • Avoid simple carbohydrates. Eat a balanced whole foods diet with a focus on plant-based eating
  • Get regular exercisefasting insulin levels
  • Get consistent good quality sleep
  • Increase intake of daily fibre aiming for 30-40 grams per day

 

 

 

 


References

https://www.diabetes.co.uk/insulin-resistance.html

https://www.walkinlab.com/labcorp-insulin-fasting-blood-test.html

https://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2019/5/Overlooked-Danger-of-Excess-Insulin/Page-01

 

 

Black Olive Salsa with Organic Corn Chips

Black Olive Salsa with Organic Corn Chips

Who doesn’t love a good salsa!  (I’m not sure if that is actually a question or a statement but I will go with the later:))

As with the great majority of recipes that I share with you, this is a simple, whole foods gem that likely includes many of the ingredients that you already have in your pantry.

Salsa and chips is a perfect snack for Saturday night hockey, Sunday afternoon football or your monthly book club meetings.

I included this recipe in the ‘Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen’ section of my October Newsletter and got some great feedback on it!

This salsa provides you with cancer-fighting nutrients like healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as well as gut healthy fibre.

I hope you enjoy it!

 

Black Olive Salsa with Organic Corn Chips

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white onions, chopped
  • 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1-2 tsp raw honey
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 10-12 black olives, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup fresh pineapple cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • Organic corn chips
For added protein you can add leftover roast chicken or cooked Chickpeas 
Directions:
  1. Sauté the onions with the olive oil in a medium frying pan until slightly translucent
  2. Add the tomatoes, honey, garlic, and oregano
  3. Continue to cook on medium heat
  4. If using, add the chicken or beans and cook until juice has evaporated
  5. Remove from the heat and add the olives and pineapple
  6. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper
  7. Serve with organic corn chips
Tips:
  • If you like a little heat don’t be afraid to spice it up by adding chilli flakes or even jalapenos to the salsa before serving
  • If corn chips are not your thing, then try whole grain pita chips or your favourite whole grain cracker.

 

hot peppers

Why Do Hot Peppers Bring the Heat?

There are three basic groups of peppers: bell, sweet, and hot. People all over the world eat them in one form or another.  Some eat for them the flavour, some eat them for the challenge and many for a combination of the two.

I am going to focus here on the hot variety and just why they are so.

Peppers are hot because they contain a chemical called capsaicin and related chemicals called capsaicinoids. Capsaicin acts by binding with nerve receptors generally used to transmit heat and heat-related pain in the body. The higher the capsaicin content the hotter the pepper.

Scoville Heat Unit

In 1912 a chemist named Wilbur Scoville invented a scale to measure the heat of peppers.  To this day pepper heat is measured in the Scoville Heat Unit.  Bell and sweet peppers have zero Scoville units since they have no capsaicin. Jalepeno peppers measure from 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville units and the pepper that I mistakenly planted this year, the Bhut Jolokia chili pepper or ghost pepper, which holds the distinction of being the world’s hottest chili pepper, measures 1,001,304 Scoville.

Back to capsaicin. It’s a flavourless and odourless substance found on the inside flesh of peppers. The experience of heat happens when the chemical binds to receptors that are made to respond to pain and heat in the throat and mouth. This tricks the brain into thinking that your mouth is on fire, causing your body to fight the “heat” by boosting your metabolism (increasing circulation) and cooling via perspiration.

After the brain gets this heat alert it sends out the cooling troops to neutralize and remove the heat.  These troops work to increased circulation by initiating cooling perspiration and reactions like a runny nose and teary eyes.

Myth:

A chilli pepper’s spicy heat comes from the seeds so removing them minimizes the heat.

Truth:

A chilli pepper’s spicy heat comes from the pith and ribs of the pepper, not the seeds.

The seeds may be coated with some of the capsaicin because they are in contact with the rib.  But the seeds themselves don’t actually contain any heat.

The ribs contain a good deal of the capsaicin heat but the flesh itself contains a good amount of heat as well.

So why can some people beat the heat while others suffer the fire?

There are 3 reasons proposed to answer this question.

1. Less Capsaicin Detecting Receptors

This theory states that some people inherit fewer of the capsaicin-detecting receptors that line your mouth and throat, making them less sensitive to hot peppers.

2. Training our heat receptors

An associate professor at the Culinary Institute of America, William Phillips, pointed out that people in some parts of the world such as Mexico or India naturally have higher tolerance for spicy food because they begin eating them at a very young age.

This receptor training desensitizes a person to capsaicin over time so they actually perceive less burn from capsaicin.

3. Thrill Seekers Love the Burn

This is interesting.  There was a  study done in 2012 that showed sensation-seeking individuals are more likely to like spicy food. The researchers found that people who are more open to new experiences and enjoy thrill-based activities, think roller coaster and rock climbing, tend to enjoy spicy food even if the immediate sensation is unpleasant.

Nadia Byrnes, one of the researchers stated that “Biologically, spice creates a sensation in the mouth that the brain interprets as burning or being on fire. When your body realizes there’s no real danger, it begins to interpret the sensation as a ‘thrill’ similar to gambling or riding roller coasters.”

Why are peppers healthy?

Hot peppers are healthy and here is why:

  • Capsaicin
    On top of being “hot,” capsaicin has been shown to be anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-diabetic.
  • Vitamins
    Peppers are a rich source of vitamin C. They also contain antioxidants like vitamin A and also B-complex vitamins like vitamin B-6 and B-1.
  • Minerals
    Chillies have a good amount of minerals like magnesium, potassium, iron, and manganese.

There are countless ways to incorporate hot peppers in to your diet. Your first decision however is to determine what types of peppers pack just the right amount of heat for you.

Hot Pepper Oil

Here is a handy dandy way to use hot peppers.

Is it a recipe?  Not sure but here is how it goes.

In a glass jar with a lid (I use 125ml one) cut up a a few peppers (I use 2-3 different types usually) enough to fill about half of the jar.

Fill the jar with a very good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil making sure all pepper are covered. Put the lid on the jar and let it sit for at least one day before using it.

This condiment is great on just so many dishes.

Enjoy!