Age is a state of mind – and health

Age and health were discussed in the last post and my point was primarily that we don’t know how many tomorrow’s we have so getting priorities done sooner rather than later is important. I feel better now than I did at age 38. The age stands out in my memory because I had trouble standing, trouble walking, trouble not having severe migraines, and even as a dietitian with knowledge regarding weight loss strategies and research, I had trouble losing weight no matter how hard I tried with diet and exercise. Eventually I learned about the need for adequate iodine to counteract body stores of bromide, chloride and fluoride and I started losing weight fairly easily. There is more to that story bit the point is simply that it is difficult to feel young when your body is exhausted and in chronic pain – no matter how many birthdays you’ve celebrated.

At a young age I learned that lesson – when I was four – my eldest sister died that year of cancer/leukemia. I only have two memories of her. In one she was laying in her bed because that is all she had energy for, but she was entertaining me with a beanbag frog and a ping-pong ball – somehow she made it seem like the frog was eating the ping-pong ball and swallowing it – I don’t know if at age 13 she could just hide it or if there was a rip in the cloth frog. It was one of a set that my mother had made – anyone who has had summer fun in a frog pond would know that they can seem both easy to catch because there are so many at times sitting on lily pads and that they are hard to catch because they seem to see you from any direction and leap away in time. A bean bag game makes catching them a lot easier.

In the other memory she was laying in a box with her teddy bear and I was told that she was going away into the ground- or something like that – and my age four self knew she had been sick but I couldn’t understand why her teddy bear was sick too. I was young, it is a wordless memory so I don’t really know what I was told. I don’t think I understood at the time she wasn’t just asleep and eventually over time when I realized she wasn’t coming back to her normal bed the memory fragment gave me comfort because I knew she had her teddy bear with her wherever she was. Life is a circle. The beanbag frog didn’t go away and it was a favorite for me because it always reminded me of my big sister and her playing with me even though she was tired and laying in her bed.

Frogs represent life in an obvious way because you can watch them grow from tiny tadpoles into little tiny limbed frogs and eventually large ones who sit on lilypads chirping their twilight songs or leaping and swimming and eating flies. We all have a place in an equal opportunity circle of life.

Unfortunately fo frogs and other amphibians they are our Canaries in a coalmine. Their delicate skin and life cycle that spends so much time in watery habitats makes them particularly susceptible to pollutants and their health, population count,  and frequency of birth defects are an early warning of environmental toxicity.

Enjoy everyday and every moment – trite but true – today is a present, a gift to enjoy. Having health and having a healthy environment are not guaranteed and we all have to work together to protect both for future generations of children and amphibians and even flies – we all have a place in the cycle of life. Amphibians and insects are also part of the diet of some birds such as Sandhill Cranes. (Sandhill Cranes)

Sandhill Cranes in flight.
Sandhill Cranes in a corn field before spring planting of a new crop.

 

Near death experience survivors from around the world have similar stories to tell about their experience- in their many different languages. As a toddler I had a traumatic experience that I think was a near death, lack of oxygen, experience and based on the others tales of another state of consciousness I do believe that we have an energy form and that there is somewhere my sister is still in existence in energy form – as well as in my two brief memories- may we all coexist in peace.

*Nrf2 promoting foods may not be beneficial in some cases of drug resistant leukemia – the resistant cancer cells use it to protect themselves from oxidative stress. (http://www.pnas.org/content/107/16/7479.full) Research is being advanced in targeting the NRF2 pathways used by the resistant cancer cells – in coordination with other drugs. Inhibiting the Nrf2 pathways can be very toxic to other areas of the body. (https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/809638) Having the Nrf2 promoting foods in the diet as a preventative before cancer occurs would be also protecting against other inflammatory conditions.

Disclosure: This information is being shared for educational purposes within the guidelines of Fair Use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individualized health care guidance. Please seek an individual health care professional for individualized health care guidance. Thanks.

Fennel Cookies – lightly licorice; and a Lime variation

Onward to new cookie horizons- 

Fennel Seed is served raw or toasted as crunchy after dinner snacks in India based cuisine. They are digestive aids and have a breath freshening effect. The flavor is similar to licorice with a hint of mint lingering after the initial stronger flavor. I eat a small pinch or two equal to a half teaspoon or a teaspoon after meals as I have found it good for my digestion. Health benefits may also include bone strengthening protection against osteoporosis.

I’ve found that some people have a problem with foods that are too crunchy. The raw or toasted seeds are very crunchy. They are also available at speciality spice shops as a ground powder so when shopping for more Gumbo File Powder I also bought ground Fennel Powder – and the results are delicious. I returned to the original cookie variation that uses Golden Flaxmeal and Coconut Oil because I wanted the Fennel flavor to be the main flavor. The pomegranate adds a tangy distinct fruit background flavor which works with the stronger chocolate or molasses but might overpower the licorice mint flavor of Fennel seeds.

Several of the ingredients in addition to the Fennel Seed Powder may help promote our own production of Nrf2 which helps us make our own anti-inflammatory and possibly anti-cancer chemicals in addition to containing other beneficial phytonutrients.

Fennel Cookies:

Wet ingredients:

  • 3 Tablespoons Golden Flaxmeal
  • 10 Tablespoons boiling Water
  • Stir the Flaxmeal into the boiling water in a small bowl for a couple minutes until it thickens and turns opaque slightly. Then add the melted Coconut Oil and stir until it turns creamy white and opaque. Then add the Brown Sugar, Vanilla, and Apple Cider Vinegar.
  • 3/4 cup Coconut Oil, melted
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar

Dry ingredients, mix together in a large bowl:

  • 1 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 3/4 cup Coconut Flour
  • 1/2 cup Tapioca Flour/Starch
  • 1/2 cup ground Fennel Seed Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda

Add the wet ingredients from the small bowl to the dry ingredients and stir gently until well mixed. The dough will be soft and sticky, moist enough to easily roll or spoon into small rounds. The batch makes two trays of 24 cookies about one inch around.

Coat the pans with a small amount of coconut oil or pan spray to prevent sticking. Bake at 350’F for 25-30 minutes. Rotate the pans from the top and bottom racks at 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack and then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, freezer or at room temperature. Chilling in the refrigerator or freezer will convert the Tapioca starch into a form that can become a healthier form in the digestive system (called resistant starch).

Fennel Cookies – these are so good, words are inadequate.

Lime Cookies

*I tried a variation of this recipe and decided I liked the first batch best but after a couple days the flavor blended better and was also pretty good. Dried lime powder or dried lemon powder are available in Middle Eastern grocery stores. I used two tablespoons of dried lime powder instead of the half teaspoon of vanilla. The flavir blended into the cookie better after a couple days so it might work better if it were added to the melted coconut oil in advance of mixing the cookie dough – melt the oil, mix in the dried lime powder, stir and let it sit for ten or twenty minutes while measuring the other ingredients and then add it to the emulsified Flaxmeal.

The fennel powder could be replaced with more of one of the other flours or the flavor blended well after couple days and both the lime and fennel have anti-inflammatory phytonutrients content – so give it a try eithet way and maybe both would be enjoyable.

Disclosure: This information is being provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of Fair Use. While I am a Registered Dietitian it is not intended to provide individualized health  care guidance.. Please seek an individual health care professional  individualized health care guidance.

 

 

 

Cheerful Chocolate Cookies

Having chocolate cookies is likely going to be more cheerful than not having chocolate cookies, however these cookies may contain an extra helping of cheerfulness. I made another batch of the Gumbo File/Choctaw Spice/Sassafras Leaf powder Spicy Molasses Cookies http://transcendingsquare.com/2018/03/29/spicy-molasses-cookies-revisited/ with cocoa powder as the main flavoring in place of the Blackstrap Molasses. This time however I wrote out a recipe based on the latest experiment and my latest version of Chocolate Cookies. The calculations revealed that inadvertantly in doubling the batch I had forgotten to double the Baking Soda which is the actual leavening- agent in the recipe, as well as not doubling the emulsifier- the egg replacer, which was the Gumbo File Powder in the experiment and Golden Flaxmeal in my typical egg free versions.

For allergy or digestive intolerant patients it can be nice to have a few substitutions available in case they can’t have one they might still be able to have a different one. The Gumbo File seems to be a more potent emulsifier than the Golden Flaxmeal. The recipe worked with double the amount but still didn’t rise much even with the correct amount of leavening-. The lack of oil or butter and substitution of liquid instead makes the cookies more Brownie or Fudge like, very moist and dense- Energy Bites.

The pomegranate extract and pomegranate juice are likely giving the cookies their increased helping of cheerfulness mood boosting power, beyond the normal yum, it’s chocolate effects. If you want to try the recipe and don’t have Pomegranate Extract on hand then just substitute Pomegranate Juice; 100 percent, unsweetened organic, is what I used and it isn’t low cost – $12/32 ounces. The recipe as I made it this time used 2 1/2 cups juice – 20 ounces, and 1 1/2 cups Pomegranate Extract – 12 ounces; so the double batch, 92 cookies contain 32 ounces of juice/pomegranate peel extract. *Sweetened pomegranate juice would be fine to use, this is a reduced sugar recipe compared to typical cookie recipes. Cherry juice would probably also taste good in this recipe and also has medicinal/functional food benefits. 100 percent juice also means no water is added which could make a tart cherry juice too strong, I typically dilute 100 percent tart cherry juice with some water when I drink it as a beverage, and sometimes the 100percent pomegranate juice but it isn’t quite as tart as the cherry, consider either as somewhat of a concentated juice compared to the milder blends that are available which frequently are based on apple. white grape, or pear juice. Pure fructose can be more difficult for people with digestive sensitivities than a blend of fructose and glucose/table sugar, as the fructose can promote more gassiness occasionally. Smaller portions also can help, a fruit or fruit juice serving is typically four to six ounces and yet bottles sold as individual portions are frequently twelve to twenty ounces-recap it and save some for later.

The Baking Cocoa I used is the  “Dutched” type that is pre-treated with an alkali, similar to the Native American method of treating corn with alkali wood ash (Nixtamil flour) which increases the B vitamin content and helps protect against deficiency of Niacin and pellagra, Niacin deficiency. The process also may help preserve B1, Thiamin content and B2, Riboflavin content (Thiamin content of three sources of corn and arepas…. )(Beriberi- is caused by thiamin/thiamine – B1 deficiency,, the processing of brown rice into a polished low fiber white rice led to large numbers of people developing BeriBeri in early history of Asian food processing.  Thiamin). The “Dutched” cocoa powder is smoother in flavor and a little darker in color then cocoa powder that is not pte-treated with alkali. I don’t know if the B vitamin content is modified in the same way as with Nixtamil  corn flour — but somehow the combination of ingredients made a very dark chocolate cookie:

Cheerful Chocolate Cookies, baked and raw dough – no they are not overbaked.
The raw Cheerful Chocolate Cookie dough.
The baked Cheerful Chocolate Cookies are not overbaked but you have to flip one over in the oven to check the crust in order to tell if is is close to being baked enough – is it crisp with some increased darkness of color.

Dry ingredients, stir together in a large bowl:

  • 1 1/4 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 3/4 cup Cocoa Powder (Regular or “Dutched” would work similarly)
  • 2 cups Coconut Flour
  • 1 cup Almond Meal
  • 1/2 cup Tapioca Flour/Starch
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Cardamom Powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda

Emulsifier step- gently heat Pomegranate Extract or Juice to a simmer in a saucepan then remove from heat and stir in the Gumbo File Powder.

  • 1 1/2 cups Pomegranate Extract
  • 6 Tablespoons Gumbo File Powder

Wet ingredients – in a another large bowl combine the thickened warm emulsifier liquid with the Brown Sugar and then stir in half of the remaining juice. Reserve part of the juice to add to the dry ingredients after first mixing in the emulsifier/sugar mixture. (This method is more like making a cake than a cookie, you combine small amounts of the liquid at a time for a smooth cake batter that is not over-stirred.)

  • 2 cups Brown Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups Pomegranate Juice, (100 percent, unsweetened organic is what I used – with the goal of a functional/healing food in mind)

The dough should be moist and able to be rolled or spoonef into a sticky round shape that doesn’t crumble – a soft playdough-like consistency.

The Baking time is longer than for a cookie dough made with butter or coconut oil – 20-25 minutes for those became 30-35 minutes for these Brownie or Fudge like Energy Bites. I bake two pans of 24 cookies at a time and rotate the pans from top shelf to bottom shelf and turned around front to back at 20 minutes to get a more even baking. These low fat juice containing cookies then take an additional 10-15 minutes. My typical coconut oil/ butter cookies are rotated at 15 minutes and then left for another 10-15 minutes. If baking only one tray use the top shelf and rotating the pan is less important as the oven heat is directed at the top and bottom of the pan more evenly.

Most of the ingredients in this recipe may be providing beneficial phytonutrients that might help promote our own production of NRF2 which then helps promote our own anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer abilities. Health may never have tasted so good – enjoy!

Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of Fair Use. While I am a Registered Dietitian it is not intended to provide individualized health care guidance. Please seek an individual health care professional for the purpose of individualized health care guidance.