The hands-down favorite from a recent Manhattan product tasting, this simple heart-healthy combination is delicious, nutritious and packed with energy.
Energy + boosted anti-inflammatory and antioxidant bioavailability. Three simple ingredients combine to provide four wellness advantages in every serving.
We often get questions about the sugar content of preserved ginger. When we grow and harvest Ginger, it is not naturally high in simple sugars. Unlike many fresh fruits that average around 10% sugar, ginger naturally has only a few percent. When we dry fruit, we remove the water and concentrate the sugars. This gives dried fruit both its delicious sweet concentrated flavor, but most importantly also acts as a natural preservative. To provide the same level of natural preservation, fresh early season ginger is steeped in a cane sugar solution. Some of the water is replaced by the cane sugar. The result is a product very similar to dried fruit. You should enjoy preserved ginger as you would dried fruit. Be mindful that they contain sugar and combine them with healthy fiber for slow and steady glycemic release.
Enjoy the mix as a snack, or my favorite, sprinkled over a salad.
Prep Time : 1 Minutes | Cooking Time: 0 Minutes | Servings: 12
Verdant Kitchen® Products in this recipe:
Fast, no-fuss, delicious and packed full of heart- and liver- healthy antioxidants (ginger) and beta-glucan (oats). This simple breakfast is a perfect way to start the day and help undo the free radical damage from last night's excess.
Ginger and oats are a liver-healthy power couple. See our Blog for more information on what the research shows on the role they play in reducing liver damage.
Prep Time : 1 Minute | Cooking Time: 5 Minutes | Servings: 1
Calories approx 300
Verdant Kitchen® Products in this recipe - click for more information:
We all enjoy a glass of wine or a delicious cocktail, but spare a thought for your liver health and make sure your diet is full of liver healthy natural antioxidants. When we overdo it, we turn to our liver to help us clean up after the party. A simple breakfast of oats and ginger can make a world of difference. See video at the end of this blog and click here for the recipe.
Oxidants and Free Radicals
We hear a lot about "free radicals," but what are they?
A wide range of chemicals can cause a series of reaction in our bodies promoted by oxygen. The result in electrical charged elements called free radicals that can damage of bodies cells, DNA. This damage in turn leads to inflammation, cancer and other diseases. Stress, alcohol and smoking are major causes of what is known as oxidative stress.
The work of cleaning the toxins from our body fall on the liver.
Citation:Polygon data is from BodyParts3D
Our liver is an amazing organ, one of the largest in our body, it is responsible for over 500 separate functions. It does the heavy lifting in our body of dealing with the breakdown of toxins, alcohol and many other substances. When we overwhelm our liver with too much partying and oxidative stress, we can cause damage that leads to fatty liver disease, cirrhosis and scar tissue. These rob us of vital liver functions that are so critical for a healthy, active life.
To combat the effect of the oxidants and free radicals our bodies use antioxidants. These elements are a broad class of chemicals often found in herbs, fruits, nuts and vegetables that can react with and remove the oxidants and free radicals. Filling our bodies with these in our diet reduces oxidative stress damage.
A Simple Recipe with a powerful result.
A simple and delicious breakfast, made in 5 minutes, can help manage that oxidative stress. Oats, ginger, and fresh and dried fruits are satisfying, nutritional, and full of heart-healthy and cancer-fighting goodness.
I love this with fresh seasonal berries. The Ginger Bites add small explosions of sweet, warm ginger flavor. Try it with a splash of your favorite nut milk for a sub-400 calorie start to your post-party day.
So why does this simple combination of foods work so well?
Let’s look at the key ingredients. Recent double blind placebo-controlled studies show that oats, rich in beta-glucan, had a metabolic-regulating and liver-protecting effect. The data showed that consumption reduced body weight and body fat. Profiles of liver function as measured by enzymes that indicate liver damage AST and ALT, both showed reductions in people consuming oats.
When you combine the liver-healthy benefits of oats with the anti-oxidant benefits of ginger you have a powerful combination. In studies, ginger continues to show its broad positive impact. The rich phytochemicals of ginger include components that scavenge free radicals produced in biological systems. Ginger has several main phytochemicals. 6-Shogol has exhibited the most potent antioxidant properties. More on this in later blogs and videos.
Not only does a diet including ginger offer benefits to the liver but the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory natural elements also offer positive impacts on cancer and inflammatory diseases.
A lot has been said about the trend in warming weather. You can choose to call it climate change or not, but what is fact is that we have seen warming average temperatures for the last 30 years.
Looking across the US we can see this trend as increases in average mean temperatures by state.
You can customize you information at this NOAA site
If seems like every other person I have met in the last week has a cold of some sort. Changing temperature profiles changes disease spread. To focus on immunity and recovery, see FightBack5
We will hear a lot more about climate change and sometimes it seems a bit abstract and difficult to apply to your daily lives. On the farm it is only too obvious. Planting and harvest times are keyed to last frost, first frost and average temperatures. The temperatures and associated rainfall drives insect emergence, which has a very direct impact on quality and yield. Crops that have never been grown in a region suddenly become possible, while long-term staple crops become uneconomic.
Last week in mid-February on the farms at Verdant Kitchen in Savannah GA, the camellias were finishing their flowering. The azaleas were finishing a big bloom. It was 79 F. The weed seeds had shot and clover was 6 inches high and lush.
Farms worry about lots of things, but above all they worry about uncertainty. Uncertainty generally means reduced yields and increased costs. These are costs that in the end are borne by the consumer. We should understand climate change and all do our part to reduce the impact. The consequences of changing climate will hit our pockets and our environment.
We can watch our graphs and first and last frost almanac dates - but just go stand by a flowering shrub. The bees will tell you when it's spring.
Green Tea contains high levels of polyphenols that have been shown in research to contribute to anti-cancer impacts. Prostate Cancer remains one of the leading causes of death in the USA, and up to 30% of men 30-40 years show precancerous lesions. Can Green Tea help to reduce rates of death from Prostate Cancer? We will look to see what the research shows. Click here for products included.
In 60 seconds or less, you can brew a delicious cup of USDA Organic tea. If you only do one thing today to step toward wellness - make a cup of green tea. The process of steeping tea in hot water goes back thousands of years. The gentle and enjoyable process helps release the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals in this blend of natural products in a way that is easy for our bodies to absorb.
Google recently released their Food Trends for 2016 . If you were in any doubt about the role food plays in our lives, then look through this report. It is as much a social commentary as it is an aggregate of the thoughts and concerns of millions of people. A contemplation of this report is thoughtfully presented in 2016 Food Trends on Google - The Rise of Functional Foods.
The report caught my attention because it highlights Turmeric as a "rising star" in Google searches (after a long period of being a "sustained riser" on the search engine). It was this opening paragraph that spoke to the intersection of social concerns about our food and diet, the access technology is giving us to food and wellness information, and the ability to customize our lives.
The report stated "The dinner table looks quite different than it did just 10 years ago. For one, there's likely a smartphone next to the fork. And on each plate, there might be a different meal—mom's paleo, dad's vegan, the kids' gluten- and nut-free. At first glance, you might think these changes are unrelated...."
I think that knowledge of what we eat, where it comes from, and how it got to our plate is powerful. The choices we make several times a day about our food are perhaps the most important decisions we make in our lives. Increasingly these are individual choices. As the report points out, we have the ability to customize our food choices and roll them into a meal plan the same way we can customize and organize the apps on our smart phones.
As positive as I feel about the ability to access food information, I have a deep concern. This newfound dietary personalization speaks to our troubled and stressful lives. The fact that over the last five years there has been a 961% increase in the search "what foods are good for acid reflux" speaks to the challenges we face with our lifestyles. It is essential that people use this access to information to lead better, healthier lives.
In his best-selling 2008 book "In Defense of Food", author Michael Pollan does a masterful job of explaining the shift after the Second WW to deconstruct food into its separate components (fat, sugar, salt, calories...) and then recombine these and represent them as a nutritional label. He explains how this was an underlying cause of the widespread obesity and inflammatory diseases that we have seen since.
The problem is that while a natural food diet is in theory a simple proposition, the chemistry of food and the chemistry of our bodies is anything but simple. Break food down into its chemical components, add a few chemists (like me!) plus some good marketing people, and you get the breakfast cereal aisle that’s in every grocery store.
As Michael Pollan points out, the problem is not that we were provided information, nor is it that the information was incorrect. In fact, nutritional labels and particularly Ingredients Panels are a great source of information on prepared foods. Food labels were developed over several decades and represent a good faith effort to provide the current medical science on diets. The problem is that food, real food, is so much more than a few categories listed on a nutrition label. The problem is that “ingredients” can be used to synthesize foods to meet specific marketing objectives. In addition, the "current medical science on diets" has turned out to not always be correct. The beliefs that all fat is bad, that all dietary cholesterol is bad, have turned out to not be correct. My concern is that the access to "Internet quality information" mixed with excellent marketing can be a blessing and a curse. One thing for sure is that food, like fashion, is based on trends that are ever changing.
While food trends change, the body's need for nutrition has remained pretty constant. At Verdant Kitchen™ we have looked to ancient history and some long culinary and health traditions to smooth out the trends. The Rise of Functional Foods is much more of a return to age-old nutritional traditions than it is a new idea.
The key aspects of wellness continue to be:
- Eat food that provides Naturally Complex Nutrition™. That includes the spices like ginger and turmeric, and the colored fruits and vegetables packed with phytochemicals, antioxidants and natural inflammation regulators.
- Pursue an active lifestyle that includes exercise, sleep and joy.
- Be educated and informed. Make conscious food choices.
The "Rise of Functional Foods" is a great example of the positive good that can come from access to food information. Technology builds bridges between people and information that delivers useful knowledge. Functional Foods are a mashup of information between what tastes great and what is good for us. At Verdant Kitchen™, we call ourselves a Gourmet and Wellness company because our core Ginger and Turmeric products stand at the intersection of taste and function like they have for at least 7000 years. An ancient Egyptian may not have recognized the term "functional food," but you can be very sure that they understood only too well the concept.
Another interesting observation to take from the Google articles is people's apparent search for ways to use food and ingredients that may be unfamiliar but have strong functional benefits. A few recipe ideas can help. I would also suggest a couple of kitchen essentials to get you started:
Will we be misled by the overwhelming torrent of food and wellness information that now washes over us? Most certainly we will, but the trends are positive. The Rise of Functional foods is a trend that is worthy of becoming a way of life.
#2 in a 4-part series of discussions, Bodies Out of Balance - Chronic Inflammation, we will look at when there is no balance and our bodies move from health to chronic inflammation.
In the first part of this discussion "A question of Balance - Healthy and Unhealthy Inflammation" we talked about healthy inflammation. The cascading series of steps our bodies take to protect and heal. A rapid automatic and amazingly complex set of reactions designed to find and eliminate the infection or damage that our body has suffered. Lasting from a few hours to several days the results can be unpleasant. It is a fast-paced battle. The enemy (infection or damage) must be dealt with quickly before it overwhelms us. The end result though is a body ready again for activity.
In the second in the series we will look at "Bodies Out of Balance - Chronic Inflammation."
Sometimes the battle does not end. The signals and chemical messages that trigger our inflammatory response do not reduce. The result is chronic or long-term inflammation. Inflammatory disease that in and of itself is debilitating, but also has cascading impacts as the byproduct of these chemical reactions leave our bodies awash in free radicals and toxic wastes. These chemical wastes of the battle further stress our liver and kidneys and cause cascading chain reactions of pain and loss of life quality. So what went wrong with our beautiful and oh so finely tuned defenses?
We can look at three broad categories of the cause of inflammation:
- Autoimmune diseases
A group of diseases where our own immune system triggers and begins to see our health bodies as the target for destruction. The widespread attack on our bodies causes painful chronic inflammation as a byproduct of the disease.There are unfortunately over 80 documented autoimmune diseases that affect some 50+ million people in the US alone. Just a few of these diseases include:
One of the most troubling aspects of autoimmune diseases is that the exact triggers and causes are often little understood. Bacterial and Viral Disease, prolonged stress, environmental toxin exposure all have been linked. Often developing later in life and often running in families these are debilitating diseases.
- A breakdown of our natural response systems
Our bodies natural defensive response can become unregulated or damaged. A most common example are those who suffer from seasonal allergies. Responding to the presence of dust, mold, pollen and spores, our bodies see these mostly neutral substances as invaders and launch a full-scale response with the result of watering eyes, sinus pain and endless sneezing. Medications, foods, environmental toxins can all trigger these overreactions. In some they become chronic.
- Repetitive damage
Runners, tennis players, hikers, factory workers, chefs, moms, truck drivers, the obese all suffer from the repetitive use of specific parts of their bodies. Repeated wear and tear and damage to muscles and joints trigger repeated responses.
Each in their own way have the end result of chronic and often system-wide inflammation and its downstream problems. It feels like we are all doomed, but our bodies have amazing powers of healing and are full of redundant backup systems. Look just at the soldiers in the battle, our white blood cells. An array of specialized warriors, with lives from hours to years, each with a targeted purpose rapidly replaced in our lymphatic and bone marrow systems.
We truly are the amazing assembly of biological systems. Our complexity, that so often leads to disease, can also be harnessed to heal.
Medical science has developed a wide array of chemical treatments, never without their own side effects, often unwanted and damaging. Nevertheless these treatments are a miracle to those suffering chronic pain.
The real question to be asked is not "how do we treat these diseases," but "how do we help our bodies heal from and minimize the impact of these diseases."
As you read the literature, the answers have always been with us. Each one by itself is never a complete solution, and often they are so obvious they are often overlooked and dismissed. They form the foundation of strong disease resistant, faster recovering bodies, with healthy well regulated natural inflammatory responses.
Think long-term prevention. Have a long-term plan. Most times our chronic inflammation results from years of accumulated events, and we will not solve it overnight with one pill.
Remember we "carry our scars," we accumulate the good and bad in our lives. Focus on prevention. Include foods and supplements rich in phytochemicals and polyphenols that help naturally regulate our body's healthy inflammatory responses and soak up the free radicals and help our livers and kidneys quickly and completely tag and eliminate foreign substances that do damage. Turmeric, ginger, red grapes, cabbage, green tea, carrots and a wide range of spices, legumes, nuts and colored vegetables are all part of our long-term battle plan.
The added benefit is that these products, part of our diet for thousands of years, are not only healthful but delicious and bring us the joy of great food and the happiness of friends to enjoy it with.
If it starts to feel cool in the shade and warm in the sun, if you remember that the Kentucky Derby is just around the corner, if you feel a breeze start to blow through the live oaks and southern pine..
It's time to pick some fresh mint, grab a bottle of your favorite bourbon and a bottle of our famous Ginger Syrup.
Pick a spot in the dappled shade, sip and smile.
#1 in a 4 part-series of discussion on "A Question of Balance - Healthy and Unhealthy Inflammation," See also a presentation by Verdant Kitchen CEO Ross Harding at National Health Policy and Clinical Practices conference March 2016
A few weeks ago I was in Los Angeles and one perfect spring morning I walked the 10 miles from pier to pier and back along Venice beach. I felt great. The next morning my right ankle was a mess. Swollen, hot and sore.
I didn't remember doing anything to it, but my body knew much better. My immune and repair system, a subconscious biochemical wonder of sensors, receptors, transmitters and regulators had gone into action. Overnight, a series of cascading chemical reactions had caused increased blood flow to my ankle, the muscles had become more porous allowing blood to better penetrate the region. Macrophage cells had been called to and concentrated there, pumping out a chemical cocktail of enzymes to dissolve, consume, reform, nourish and repair. The cascade of reactions had continued. An acute inflammatory response, designed to repair damage and neutralize infection.
Over the next week the inflammation reduced, my ankle felt better. My body had healed itself. The soup of breakdown products had been carried away, processed by my liver and expelled into bile and by my kidneys. New nutrients from my diet were used to reassemble and replace the chemicals and cells needed and ready for the next fight while I slept.
A healthy inflammatory response is critical to our wellness. Without it we would die, quickly being overwhelmed by muscle damage and infection.
Our lives are truly in the balance. Unregulated Inflammation is now better understood as perhaps the central problem affecting our quality of life. Once the natural cycle of healing inflammation becomes chronic, long-term damage results. Asthma, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Alzheimer's, Crohn's Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus. . .all unregulated, out-of-control inflammatory responses. The most common diseases afflicting our societies and robbing people of joyful and productive years include heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer; all have unregulated and chronic inflammation at their core. The National Institutes of Health in 2015 identified Inflammation and alleviating chronic pain as a research area of special focus.
The central questions remains. What causes our healthy inflammatory cycle to become chronic and out of control? What can we do?
I remember as an undergraduate, standing in the hall outside my biochemistry lab looking at a portion of the Krebs Cycle (the pathway in our bodies that convert fuel to energy). I was struck then and still am now by the overwhelming complexity of our chemical self. There are hundreds perhaps thousands of complex reactions. Each one with feedback loops, regulating chemicals, chemicals to catalyze reactions, chemicals to mop up, bind to and expel products.
My point is that there is a lot that can go wrong. Each of us share similar chemical pathways but each of us is unique and unique in time. Our chemical self at 20 is different than at 40 and at 60. Stress, lifestyle, environment, diet and environmental exposure can and do affect these delicate cycles and can cause them to go wrong. The cycles can be overwhelmed with reactive (free radical) compounds.
The answer is as simple in concept as it is complex to implement in our modern lives. It is a question of balance.
Reduce the things that cause inflammation and increase the things that help regulate inflammation.
Sounds simple right? Part of the answer is naturally complex nutrition™. There is positive news and there is a great deal that we can do.
We are what we eat and so much more.