Eating With Purpose

Purpose.  There are three main reasons why we eat and drink: for energy, for pleasure, and for health. It is important to balance all three, making sure that one of these categories doesn't dictate everything you consume. The best part is realizing that it can be simple and inexpensive to achieve all three in the majority of your meals and snacks. 

Have you ever heard anyone say “try this -- it’s good for you”, or someone respond with “...that tastes healthy”. The latter often means ‘I can tell that what I just tried is good for me, but I’m not sure I enjoyed it’. That visceral reaction to things like vegetables or fermented foods can be a barrier towards a well-balanced diet. Luckily, you don’t have to trade delicious food for healthy eating. Or vice versa. Combining flavorful ingredients in creative ways can make things like mizuna delicious -- the internet is teeming with great recipes for making tasty food out of nutritious ingredients.

(Mizuna, a Japanese mustard green, is pictured below -- courtesy of The Field's Edge Research Farm, located near Litiz, PA)

Practice Makes Perfect.  Sometimes we crave what we need in terms of vitamins and minerals, but more often our bodies become accustomed to what we eat, expecting the same thing -- craving more of what it is given. So if you are constantly eating fried, fatty, salty, or sugary foods, that is what your body will crave, and your taste buds will yearn for those flavor sensations (salty, sweet, etc). Luckily, taste preferences aren’t permanent, and your taste buds actually replace themselves two or three times every month. If you commit to a temporary eating habit that is high in fruits and vegetables, and low in processed, sweet, or fried foods, you will begin to crave the fresh fruits and vegetables, and they will even begin to taste sweeter and more flavorful. That’s right, healthy food starts to taste better!

Personal Challenge.  Try increasing your fruit and vegetable intake for one week, the more the better. Eat more salad, take bananas or nuts for snacks, drink fresh juice and tons of water. Also, try to significantly reduce the amount of sugar in your diet, meaning processed foods, drinks with added sugar, etc. After a week or two various foods should start to taste more flavorful and sweeter. Just imagine craving a salad for lunch!

Get the most out of your food.  The fresher your fruits and veggies are, the more nutritious and flavorful they will be. The local farmers market may be the best choice for the freshest produce, while also supporting the people in your community. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs are also a convenient way to ensure that you are getting a variety of fruits and vegetables as they are harvested throughout the season. If you are located in the Lancaster area, both Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative and Buckhill Farms provide great CSA programs.

If you don't live in Lancaster County, but still want the best organic produce it has to offer, Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative has delivery routes spanning from New York City to Washington D.C.


RHUBARB: Healing "Pie Plant" That Grows So Fast You Can Hear It


Rhubarb (Rheum Palmatum) has a long history of being revered in many cultures for it’s culinary and medicinal value. It is perennial, meaning you plant it one time and it regrows every year. Native to Central Asia and Siberia, rhubarb became a mainstay in ancient Chinese medicine. It is still highly valued and sought after for general health, as well as specific ailments related to digestive health.

The knowledge of rhubarb then migrated to Europe, where it was prized and cultivated for it's unique flavor. Along with the popular flavor of desserts like strawberry rhubarb pie, the stalks contain an surprisingly impressive amount up of nutrients and antioxidants. (The leaves, however, contain high levels of oxalate, and should not be consumed. In fact, the leaves should be cut off before being stored in refrigeration because the cold temperature may cause the high oxalate levels to migrate back into the stalks.)

We commonly think of rhubarb as a ingredient for baked goods, but the Chinese culture swore by its medicinal benefits, and the Europeans followed suit. At one point, it was much more expensive to buy rhubarb than cinnamon in France, and it was double the price of opium in England. In 1770 Benjamin Franklin introduced rhubarb seeds to the Quakers on the American East Coast.

The ‘Rhubarb Triangle’ is a 9-square-mile area in West Yorkshire that is famous for a technique called forced rhubarb production. The rhubarb is grown outdoors are moved into completely dark and heated sheds after the November frost, which causes the carbohydrates to turn into glucose, producing a sweeter taste and a deeper red color. The sheds produce enough silence, and cause the rhubarb to grow so quickly, that it makes an audible noise. It is the only place in the world where rhubarb can be heard growing, or "singing" --> The Sound of Rhubarb Growing. During peak production (before 1939), the ‘Rhubarb Triangle’ produced up to 200 tons of rhubarb daily.

7 Health Benefits 

• One cup of rhubarb contains just as much calcium as milk

• The red stalks are rich in B vitamins: folate, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, and pantothenic acid.

• Lessons inflammation in the liver associated with alcohol induced liver disease (study)

• One serving of rhubarb provides 45% of the daily value of Vitamin K: regulates blood clotting, healthy bone growth and neuron function in the brain

• Contains vitamin A and C - antioxidants for immune health, fighting inflammation, healthy skin, eye health, and possible protection against various cancers

• Excellent source of minerals, including 32% of the daily value of manganese per serving, along with iron, potassium, and phosphorus. Manganese is an antioxidant, supports skin health, and helps regulate blood sugar


Cleansing: A Modern Take On An Ancient Practice

"There is something kind of magical about starvation." Dr. Marc Hellerstein, Professor of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nutrition at UC Berkeley

One of the current and intriguing topics in health communities is fasting and juice cleansing. Fasting, in brief, is abstaining for some or all of kinds of food or drink. Fasting is an ancient tradition that is now being respected and praised due to intriguing scientific research. A more recent evolution from the traditional fast is juice cleansing, incorporating large amounts of fruits and vegetables during a fast to keep the body performing optimally while still receiving the benefits of fasting.

“When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged… Everything [is getting] a little younger and it goes back to working much better.” Valter Longo, Professor of Gerontology and the Biological Sciences at the USC Davis School of Gerontology and director of the USC Longevity Institute

There are many different things to consider when thinking about how a juice fast may be beneficial. The first part is what you aren’t eating. You’re not eating processed foods, refined sugars, artificial colourings/flavourings, and everything else that falls into that category of foods that negatively impact your health. Those are pretty much the guidelines to the Whole30 diet and the Paleo diet, which both seem to be steadily gaining popularity.

The next important consideration is what you are putting into your body: pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables. Not only are you getting the metabolic benefits of fasting, which has been shown to regenerate the entire immune system, and may slow the aging process (Fasting triggers stem cell regeneration of damaged, old immune system), but fresh fruits and vegetable juice is being provided for the body to be absorb immediately. No fiber? No problem. Some nutrients are bound to plant fiber, which are only made available to your body only after your body exerts energy to break the fiber down. Cold pressing fruits and vegetables can free up the majority of these nutrients, and allows your body to effortlessly assimilate the nutrients into your body. (Remember, this is a cleanse, where the body is getting a rest. Otherwise, fiber is vital for health, the more whole fruits and vegetables the better.)

You Are What You Eat (And Drink). The benefit of a juice cleanse is providing vital nutrition that that help the body to rejuvenate itself on a cellular level. Your body uses the nutrients from food to make new cells to replace itself on a regular basis, which means you literally are what you eat and drink. Your intestines, for instance, are cellularly replaced every 2-3 days and taste buds take about 10 days to regenerate. The skin take about 2-4 weeks to replace itself, as does the surface layer of cells in the lungs.  

Beat The Cravings. Cravings can be somewhat of a hurdle for most people. Resisting the urge to eat something sugary or salty can be a daunting task during a juice cleanse. The brightside during those moments of perceived agony? The more fruits and vegetables you eat, the more you crave them, and the less you crave things like sugar and salt. Since taste buds replace themselves every 10 days, if you eat salad everyday for that period of time, your taste buds will start to crave things like salad over sugary foods. Over time, you can train your taste buds to become more sensitive to things like sugar and salt by what you eat, so you can use less but still get the same satisfaction from them.

Cleanse to feel better. Cleanse to avoid unhealthy foods (and permanently break bad habits). Nourish yourself with pounds of fruits and vegetables. 

Here’s article that details 10 Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting