Ann's Blog

Oil Pulling

Oil pulling is an age-old remedy that uses natural substances to clean and detoxify teeth and gums. It has the added effect of whitening teeth naturally and evidence even shows that it is beneficial in improving gums and removing harmful bacteria!

The basic idea is that oil is swished in the mouth for a short time each day and that this helps improve oral health. Just as with Oil Cleansing for the skin, the principle of “like dissolves like” applies, as oil is able to cut through plaque and remove toxins without disturbing the teeth or gums.

The practice of oil pulling started in India thousands of years ago, and from my research, was first introduced to the United States in the early 1990s by a medical doctor named Dr. F. Karach, who used it with success in his medical practice.

There are hundreds of testimonials online from people who experienced benefits from oil pulling, including help with skin conditions, arthritis, asthma, headaches, hormone imbalances, infections, liver problems and more.

Though I’ve only just started, my personal experience is increased oral health and less sensitive teeth. Many people report whiter teeth also. Because bacteria and infection can enter the blood through the mouth, it does make sense that addressing these infections could have an impact in other parts of the body.

At the very least, oil pulling can be very beneficial and has no downside as long as a quality cold pressed oil (that is high enough quality to eat) is used. Oil pulling is a very inexpensive therapy that could potentially have great benefit on oral health, so there's no downside to trying it and many people have used it for several years.

The concept is incredibly simple. Basically, a person swishes a teaspoon of a vegetable based oil (coconut, sesame or olive) in the mouth for 20 minutes and then spits it out and rinses well, preferably with salted water. Oil pulling is best done in the morning or the evening, before or after eating anything, though Dr. Bruce Fife suggests that it can be done before each meal if needed for more severe infections or dental problems.

How to do oil pulling:

  1. Put 1 teaspoon of oil into the mouth. I prefer to use 1 teaspoon of organic coconut oil. I scoop it out as a solid and let it melt in my mouth before swishing.
  2. Swish for 20 minutes. Apparently the timing is key, according to Dr. Bruce Fife, author of Oil Pulling Therapy, as this is long enough to break through plaque and bacteria, but not long enough that the body starts re-absorbing the toxins and bacteria. The oil will get thicker and milky as it mixed with saliva during this time and it should be creamy-white when spit out.
  3. Spit oil into the trash can. Especially if you have a septic system. If you spit into the sink, rinse immediately with very hot water or vinegar. Do not swallow the oil as it is hopefully full of bacteria, toxins and pus that are now not in the mouth.
  4. Rinse well with warm salted water. Warm salted water cleans the mouth better. I swish a few times with warm water to get any remaining oil out of my mouth.
  5. Brush well. To make sure any remaining bacteria is killed.

I do this with coconut oil before bed. Coconut oil is naturally antibacterial and has a milder taste that other oils and is my personal preference, though I’ve also seen it recommended by oral health experts.

You will probably notice whiter teeth after starting oil pulling, and your teeth will be incredibly smooth. You should also notice less plaque when you have your teeth cleaned.

Does it Work?

There is evidence that it might help with many conditions. The most comprehensive resource I’ve seen on the topic is the book “Oil Pulling Therapy” by Dr. Bruce Fife. Here is Eva's oil pulling testimonial: http://uncooking101.com/site/article/why-oil-pull-how-does-oil-pull-help...

There are also testimonials showing that oil pulling is great for the skin, improving or eliminating acne, and huge benefits with allergy symptoms (removing mucus).

In alternative medicine, including in old Ayurvedic texts, oil pulling is an oral and systemic remedy that is said to cure about 30 system diseases, ranging from headaches to diabetes and asthma. One theory of why this works: Just as the skin is an organ that removes toxins from our body, the tongue is also a key organ for the elimination of toxins. Similar to how the foot is mapped out for reflexology, the tongue is also a map. Oil swishing eliminates toxins from every organ!

There are some scientific studies that support the benefits of oil pulling, including those showing its benefit on different types or oral bacteria, on dental caries, on plaque/gingivitis and on oral microorganisms:

S Asokan, J Rathan, MS Muthu, PV Rathna, P Emmadi, Raghuraman, Chamundeswari.Effect of oil pulling on Streptococcus mutans count in plaque and saliva using Dentocult SM Strip mutans test: a randomized, controlled, triple-blind study. Journal of the Indian Society of Pedodontics & Preventive Dentistry. 26(1):12-7, 2008 Mar

TD Anand, C Pothiraj, RM Gopinath, et al. Effect of oil-pulling on dental caries causing bacteria. African Journal of Microbiology Research, Vol 2:3 pp 63-66, MAR 2008. (PDF Link)

HV Amith, Anil V Ankola, L Nagesh. Effect of Oil Pulling on Plaque and Gingivitis. Journal of Oral Health & Community Dentistry: 2007 ;1(1):Pages 12-18

S Thaweboon, J Nakaparksin, B Thaweboon. Effect of Oil-Pulling on Oral Microorganisms in Biofilm Models. Asia Journal of Public Health: 2011 May-Aug. (PDF)

Our best source of protein

I'm going to make the assumption that everyone reading this is human. Ok, here we go ...

Many people are concerned that they are not getting enough 'protein' in their diets. In fact, they are eating too much. Because of all the "experts" offering conflicting advice, the public is confused.

In fact, the consumption of large amounts of protein has been associated with many serious health problems, including cancer and heart disease. In fact, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and others have now proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that anything more than 5% of animal products in our diets cause problems!

The body excretes less than an ounce of protein each day, suggesting that the nutritional requirement is quite small. Protein consumed in excess of this amount contributes to toxic waste buildup in the body. Protein, in fact, is no more important than any other category of nutrient.

Some will argue in favor of eating animal products, stating that it is necessary to build and maintain strength, yet the strongest animals in the world (elephants and oxen) eat only raw grasses and fruits.

Here's a key point that I want you to remember: The human body makes protein from eight essential amino acids, so these are necessary nutrients, not animal products. The original source of amino acids is plants.

A plant based diet supplies an abundant amount of the eight essential amino acids we need to make protein. There is no reason to eat all of the eight essential amino acids in fixed proportions at every meal. The human body can combine the essential amino acids consumed at one meal with essential amino acids consumed at another time.

Think about it: animals don't require specific combinations of vegetables at the same time to satisfy their protein requirements. Humans don't either.

The body maintains a constant supply of amino acids circulating in the blood and lymphatic systems. These amino acids are deposited into circulation as they become available, and are withdrawn from circulation as they are needed.

The liver regulates the quantify of amino acids in the blood to maintain a constant level. The cells also act to regulate the amino acid level. This system is called the amino acid pool, and accounts for the body's ability to synthesize complete proteins, regardless of the amino acid composition of any particular meal. The body successfully synthesizes all of its protein requirements as long as the diet supplies all eight essential amino acids. This "amino acid pool" theory has been expounded for decades by various health authorities, such as Arthur C. Guyton and T.C. Fry.

In addition, much of the world's Asian population exists on an essentially meatless diet, and the major import of this "deprivation" is a significantly lower incidence of cancer and heart disease ... and no evidence of protein deficiency!

So, where do we get the eight essential amino acids? They are found in every fruit and vegetable! These foods, for example, contain all eight: bananas, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, kale, nuts, okra, peas, potatoes, sesame seeds, summer squash, sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes and tomatoes.

Having said all that, being a vegetarian is not a guarantee of good health. A diet of primarily COOKED vegetarian food can be quite disease forming!

The human body needs carbohydrates for fuel. Animal products (flesh, milk) supply no carbohydrates.

The human body needs fiber for healthy colonic function, like peristalsis and elimination. Animal products supply no fiber.

As I've already said, the human body requires amino acids to build human protein. Animal products do contain complex animal protein, but it must be broken down into AMINO ACID components by digestion. This is a very inefficient usage of the body's energy, and human bodies are not designed to do this. Furthermore, cooking animal products alters the structure of the amino acids, rendering them virtually useless, if not actually harmful. Carnivores, like cats, do not eat cooked animal flesh.

Speaking of carnivores ... carnivores have long sharp claws and teeth for tearing and cutting animal flesh. Humans have hands and molars for picking fruits and chewing nuts.

Carnivores have acid saliva to digest animal protein. Humans have alkaline saliva, containing the enzyme ptyalin, to digest starch.

Carnivores have the ability to eliminate very large quantities of uric acid, a by product of protein digestion. Humans can eliminate only minute quantities of uric acid, a substance that is high toxic in the human body.

Most mentally healthy human beings are not instinctively drawn to kill animals. Most mentally healthy human beings probably wouldn't even eat animal flesh if they knew they could survive without it, and they had to do the killing themselves! How do you feel about killing an animal for food yourself?

We need roughly 6% "protein" (amino acids) in our diet. Some people require a bit more than others, due to age and activity level. But ALL THE PROTEIN YOU NEED IS AVAILABLE FROM PLANTS, in a form that our bodies can absorb.

For example, as a percentage of total calories, here's a sample of how much protein some kinds of plants supply (when raw or sprouted). Everything on this list has a higher protein content than any animal product (before cooking):

Alfalfa seeds: 35%
Mung beans: 27%
Sunflower seeds: 27%
Split peas: 26%
Lentils 26%
Garbanzo beans: 24%

Eating a variety of plant foods and consuming enough calories to support your level of activity will enable you to make plenty of protein with the amino acids! A green juice in the morning, and a good variety of vegetables throughout the day supplies MORE than enough amino acids to build all the protein we need.

A different way that protein requirements are often presented is in terms of body weight. The recommendation is to get 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight per day (this is high, by the way). A kilogram is 2.2 pounds, so a 160 pound adult would need 58 grams of protein (like I said, very high - most people only need about 30 grams). A 2,000 calorie per day diet composed of 12% calories from protein supplies 60 grams of protein, and this requirement is easily met on a raw food diet. Luckily, measuring amounts of protein and studying tables is unnecessary when you eat a full spectrum of raw foods!

Much of the misinformation and confusion about human protein requirements is based on animal studies using rats in the early 1900s. Later, in the 1950s, research on the protein requirements of humans revealed that rats and humans have different protein requirements and that plans provide all the essential amino acids in the amount that humans need!

Still, the powerful and highly profitable meat and dairy industries (bigger than Big Pharma or Big Oil) are happy to reinforce misconceptions about the requirements for meat and dairy in the human diet, and these industries are aided through generous subsidies and other support by the USDA! The federally funded National School Lunch program, for example, spends more on dairy products than any other food item, and the USDA still includes milk as a "required" beverage in this program, despite research showing that milk not only lacks nutritional benefits, but actually has an adverse effect on health. (In fact, cow's milk causes most human diseases: cancer, diabetes and heart disease, just to name a few.) On the one hand, it's supposed to encourage us to eat healthfully, but it's also designed to support agricultural profits. Unfortunately, profit usually prevails, compromising health awareness.

So, relax and eat your plants. Doing so will guarantee that you are getting enough amino acids to build protein.

Healthy Home Checklist: A Toxin-Reducing Guide

Kris Carr and the Environmental Working Group sent an excellent article today on how to reduce toxins in your home. For the entire article, plus a printable checklist, click here.

The short version of the article is this: we are surrounded by toxins, especially in our own homes! That is something we can easily start taking care of NOW. You don't need to do them all at once, but you'll want to implement as many as you can, as fast as you can. These are super easy ways to start detoxing your environment today.

Here is a list from Kris' article, with several good links to EWG's resources included. I recommend ALL of these!

  • Filter your tap water. Check EWG’s online tap water quality database for local contaminants and a filter that removes them, if needed. Click here to look up your water.
  • Kick the bottled water habit. For water on-the-go, get a reusable water bottle, like stainless steel (not plastic or aluminum lined with plastic). Click here to learn more.
  • Eat organic. Remember our little chat last week? Check EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce to be sure you buy organic when pesticide residues are highest.
  • Say no to fragrance. We don’t know what’s in “fragrance,” so it’s safer to choose all fragrance-free personal care products. Always check ingredient lists to be sure. Learn more. Switch to essential oils for all your good-smelling needs.
  • Check your toothpaste. Choose fluoride-free for kids younger than 2 and teach older kids to rinse and spit; fluoride is toxic if swallowed. Also, pick a paste without triclosan—you’ll see it on the ingredient list. Learn more about fluoride and triclosan.
  • Ditch extra products. Less is more. Skipping cosmetics like hair spray and detangler (tip: don’t wash out all your conditioner), air fresheners is less toxic—and cheaper! Learn more at EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database
  • Use greener cleaners. It’s hard to know without a full ingredient list, which most products don’t have. Find greener cleaners at EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning.
  • Ditch compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). They contain mercury and should be handled and disposed of with care. Use them where there’s no danger of breaking near children; clean up broken bulbs quickly and safely. Learn more.
  • Are your furnishings frightening? Learn more about what chemicals might be hiding in your sofa or mattress here.
  • Dr. Frank Lipman shared the 20 ways he keeps his home from becoming a hotbed of toxins.

why your focus is so important!

What are you focused on?

You've heard me say this before, but it's worth repeating ... over and over and over!

Whatever is happening in your life is manifested by YOU. Whatever is happening in my life is manifested by ME! What we think and what we say determine what will happen next, that's just how the energy in the universe works. (Watch the movie "The Living Matrix" or "You Can Heal Your Life" for more information on this.)

This means: whatever you FOCUS ON is what will occur. Here are some examples -

  • When you say things like, "I am always broke" or "I never have enough money," THAT is what will show up for you.
  • If you use phrases like, "That hurts me," what will show up is PAIN (hurt = pain).
  • "I have (insert medical condition here)." Every time you take ownership of a condition and state that you "have" it, you manifest it in your life.

So, you can imagine what a phrase like "They are going to give me a heart attack!" would do to your health!!

That brings us back to what you are FOCUSED on. If you pay attention to your words, you will notice what your focus is. When we focus on bad things, those bad things continue. When we focus on a medical problem, we continue to have it.

Ok, enough of the bad news. There is very good news!

We know that what we think and what we say has power, so we can use that to our benefit! In the same way that focusing on the negative has an undesirable outcome, when we focus on the POSITIVE, great things happen.

First, always remember this: Anything less than a loving thought is toxic.

Ok, now let's make sure we only manifest GOOD things in our lives. Here are examples of that -

  • "I am prosperous. I always have more money coming in than going out! I am a money magnet!"
  • "I give thanks in knowing that I am in perfect health in every cell of my body, now and forever."
  • "I love and approve of myself! I am beautiful!"
  • "I give love, and I receive love."

Substituting these simple positive, loving thoughts for the former negative ones will have a huge impact on your health and your wealth. Seriously.

Here are some more suggestions to make sure you are using high vibration thoughts and words, which manifests into good things for you:

  • You have control over every thought and every emotion. If you catch yourself getting angry or irritated at a person or an event, stop, and send love to whatever the source of the perceived problem is. If it's a person, say "I bless them with love and light, I send them love." (You'll often find that the problem is either immediately gone or resolves very quickly.)
  • When you get in your car, say "I am driving with ease, love and joy with all the other angels around me." (I say this every single time I get in my car.)
  • My body only absorbs that which serves me well. I deserve only the best! I only consume things that are *good* for me.
  • Is there something specific you want to manifest in your life? You have to be open to receiving it, which means you have to feel you deserve it, which means you have to love yourself first. Use the affirmations above daily, and write down what you want to manifest in your life. Be specific! Then visualize that event occurring, and let the universe make it happen. The "how" is NOT up to you.

This also explains why some people have negative patterns in their lives. When we repeat the same negative thoughts, we re-manifest the negative results.

You may also notice that some people or places make you feel "bad" (uncomfortable, irritable, angry, sad, give you a headache). Those are people and places that are holding negative energy. You want to protect your own lovely energy, so minimize your time in those places, and do an energy break (let me know if you don't remember how to do this).

I also recommend regular energy clearing, because we can take on negative energy from others just by touching a surface, like a doorknob or a chair.

If you seem to be in a pattern that you'd like to break, let me know and I'll send you some suggestions to get that energy moving in a positive direction. Use essential oils from Herbs Of Light (available on my web site http://www.annmcgrath.com/?q=node/22), and eat organic, living and raw plant foods as much as possible. Living foods like sprouts and freshly picked produce have the highest vibration, and are the best for our health. An alkaline body has higher vibrations, and remains at its peak health.

How to grow & make water kefir

Kefir is one of the fermented foods that I drink every day (when I'm not traveling). It's really easy to make, and you can make just about any flavor you can think of! Water kefir is a delicious, probiotic-rich, dairy-free beverage your whole family will enjoy.

Here's an excellent web site with a video:
http://www.culturesforhealth.com/water-kefir

You can get water kefir grains from me, on Amazon, or from the web site above. They may come dry (dehydrated) or wet. If they arrive dehydrated, you need to rehydrate them first. To bring your grains 'back to life', just dissolve 4 to 6 tablespoons of organic sugar in about 4 cups of water. I use a quart Ball jar. Cover with a non-airtight lid (most screw-on lids are fine, not tightened) and allow to soak for 3 to 4 days until your grains are nice and plump. Don't let it sit for more than 5 days! Once the grains are rehydrated, you can begin brewing!

If you are not going to brew immediately, put the jar of grains with liquid in the refrigerator. When you are ready to make kefir, drain with a fine strainer (non-metal is best) and discard the liquid. Rinse the grains with filtered water (tap water can harm the grains) before starting.

It may take several batches before your grains get used to your environment. The first batch of water kefir might not have much activity (growth, bubbling), if any. This is completely normal. Keep in mind that your grains need minerals, so if you don't have a good alkalizing, mineralizing water filter, then add a dash of himalayan salt to each jar of kefir. Rapadura sugar is also excellent to add the minerals into your kefir (see my recipe below). These minerals help your grains function and properly metabolize the sugars you will be feeding them. Making water kefir is not an exact science, and it's best to experiment to see what works best for you and your grains. Water kefir grains function best on a combination of organic sugar and dried fruits, or a combination of organic sugar and less processed sugar (rapadura, molasses, black sugar). Three parts sugar to one part unrefined sugar is a good ratio to start with. If you add dried fruits (and I recommend this) such as apricots, dates or raisins, make sure they are unsulphured. A small handful per quart is all you need (a tablespoon is perfect).

NOTE: Never use tap water because it contains chemicals like chlorine and fluoride which will harm your grains. Most water filters will not effectively remove fluoride or other impurities. It's best to avoid contact with metal, as prolonged exposure will harm them. I recommend glass, non-BPA plastic or wood when handling your grains, to keep them safe.

Basic water kefir formula:

  • 4 cups water (filtered)
  • 4 Tablespoons sugar (I use 2Tbs rapadura, 2Tbs organic cane sugar; also, a combination of 2Tbs organic cane sugar and 2Tbs maple syrup works well)
  • 4 Tablespoons water kefir grains
  • Dash himalayan salt

For best results, boil the water first. Combine the hot water, sugars and salt and let the sugars dissolve (and the water cool to room temperature). Pour the solution in to quart jars or containers. Gently place the grains into the cooled sugar solution. Add raisins (or whatever dried fruit you prefer). Cover with a non-airtight lid, to avoid possible, but unlikely explosion as the carbon dioxide builds up, and allow to brew between 65 and 82 degrees for 24 to 72 hours. Cheese cloth or a non-bleached paper towel work great as a breathable cover. Place the jars on a counter, away from direct sunlight. When the kefir is done brewing, just strain the grains and fruit out and enjoy the beverage! Throw the fruit away. There is no need to rinse your grains between batches, but I usually do. Because you will be using filtered or distilled water, you need to add minerals. That's the reason for the himalayan salt. A small pinch of baking soda or calcium carbonate will help promote growth (although I've never used these). You can add a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses if you are having difficulties getting your grains active.

At final bottling (after brewing), you'll need an airtight bottle, like a swing top. This will help to finish the carbonation. Let it sit, bottled for 24 hours, then refrigerate it.

How do you know when it's ready to bottle? It will have a sweet, yeasty, slightly sour smell, like baking sourdough bread. If you have let it sit too long and it doesn't taste good, just rinse your grains and start another batch. When your grains become accustomed to your environment, they will start doubling in volume with almost every brewing! When the weather is warm out, it takes much less time to brew and carbonate - 24 hours to brew, and 24 hours or less sitting out after bottling. In cooler months, it may take 48 or 72 hours to finish brewing. Be sure to refrigerate before drinking, because it will be very fizzy, like champagne, and could explode upon opening! (Ask me how I know this!)

Other tips: Use coconut water instead of filtered water (you don't need to boil this), for all or part of the water in your kefir. When bottling, you can flavor it any way you like, with flavored extracts or juices. I usually add 1-2 ounces of grape juice or cherry juice, and some crystallized ginger. You can add fresh lemon or lime juice, mango puree, or just about anything you can think of! Experiment and see what you like best.

Have fun!

This is where I get raw almonds

The one thing about eating raw almonds is to make sure that they’re raw. Some manufacturers who sell nuts steam them before they sell them, then treat them with a chemical. Then, the buyer should make sure that the almonds aren’t rancid. One trick is to put them in water. By putting them in water, the almonds that float are tainted. If they float, it’s best that they should be discarded. (It may take a minute for them to sink, but raw almonds always sink.)

Health Benefits

Aside from the other good things other nuts have, almonds also have copper and manganese. These are needed in trace amounts by the body. Copper is necessary to make red blood cells and is a catalyst for the storage and release of iron. It also helps the body make collagen, which keeps skin, bones, cartilage and tendons supple. Manganese is needed for normal bone structure and to metabolize glucose. It helps the body break down carbohydrates and fats into fuel and might be an antioxidant.

They are also rich in riboflavin or Vitamin B2, which is needed for growth and the repair of tissues. Raw almonds also seem to lower a person’s risk of developing gallstones and might help people maintain a healthy weight.

Almonds are also high in Vitamin E. Vitamin E helps support heart health, guards against cataracts and cervical cancer and bolsters the immune system. Some medical professionals believe Vitamin E can help with Parkinson’s disease. By consuming about an ounce of almonds has over a third of the average person’s RDA of Vitamin E.

They are cholesterol free and low on the glycemic index, which means they don’t flood the bloodstream with glucose after they’re eaten. This means they’re beneficial to people with diabetes and can help protect against diabetes.

After buying and soaking the nuts, almonds should be put in the refrigerator or dried in a dehydrator. In the refrigerator, they will continue to grow. I usually soak mine for 24 hours before using in a recipe. If I just want them as snacks, I'll soak for 24 hours, then dehydrate for 12 hours.

Enjoy almonds, as they can be eaten out of hand, as a salad or dessert topping, or used in hundreds of raw food recipes.

The farm where I get truly raw, organic almonds is Briden Wilson Farms. Here is a link to their site: http://homegrownalmonds.com/organically-grown-raw-almonds.html

Sprouting: The Why, What and How To Do It Successfully

From Karen Knowler's Raw Food Coach web site:

Whether I am lucky or have unrecognised green fingers, I do not know, but it seems that many people have struggled and continue to struggle with sprouting seeds, beans, pulses and grains successfully, and after a couple of failed attempts tend to throw in the towel and write the whole idea off.

Nooooo!

Don't do it!

Sprouting absolutely has to be one of the very most important raw food "tools" you need to have in your toolbox if you want to be as lithe, gorgeous and energy-filled as you can possibly be (my already abundant energy probably doubles when I bring sprouts into my daily diet). There's a LOT to be said for these apparently "insignificant" little living beauties, and to ignore or exclude them from your diet is, in my humble opinion, one of the biggest mistakes you can possibly make.

So in my bid to have you sprouting successfully all over your kitchen, here follows my foolproof guide to sprouting using my own personal favourite method, the jar.

What is sprouting?

Sprouting is an alternative term for germinating, although the sprouting process goes a little beyond basic germination and results in a partially grown or young plant. In a raw food kitchen we’re looking specifically at the sprouting of a nut, seed, bean, pulse or grain in order to render it edible or more easily digestible. Nuts do not need to be sprouted to make them edible, nor do some seeds, but both benefit greatly from soaking and sprouting as they become more easily digestible and juicier as a result. Other seeds, i.e. those that are supposed to be sprouted, plus all beans, pulses and legumes (with the exception of peanuts) need to be sprouted if they are to be eaten raw. Kidney beans should never be eaten raw and should be avoided. Grains should also be soaked and sprouted, although dry oats are an exception and can be milled down and used to make cookies successfully without being sprouted first. The sprouting process begins in water in your very own kitchen.

Why sprout?

When a seed, bean, pulse, nut or grain is soaked in water for a period of time, the plant’s enzyme inhibitors are removed. These enzyme inhibitors prevent a plant from germinating unless the right conditions for growth are met, and so once the seed comes into contact with water and the enzyme inhibitors are washed away, the germination process begins. This process sets into action a whole chain of reactions enabling the plant to grow at a rapid rate. As it does so, the vitamin content increases dramatically, to the point where the sprouted seed can contain hundreds or thousands times more vitamins than it did previously, and the protein, carbohydrates and fats begin to break down into a pre-digested form making for easier and better digestion and assimilation overall. The enzyme content of each seed, been, pulse, nut or grain also sky-rockets making sprouts one of the most enzyme-rich (i.e. live) foods on the planet.

What do I need to sprout?

You don’t need any fancy equipment to get sprouting, although there are many pieces of equipment available to help you such as jars, trays, bags and even automatic sprouting kits. To get started you’ll need some seeds or beans for sprouting, a container to sprout them in such as a jam jar, and something to drain the water through, like a sieve or some netting or muslin secured around the top of the jar.

Best ways to get sprouting

Sprouting is actually very easy, but some seeds and beans tend to sprout more easily than others. The easiest ones tend to be mung, lentil, fenugreek, chickpea (garbanzo) and quinoa. These are all quick to grow (quinoa takes just 24 hours, the others take 2-3 days on average) and mastering the sprouting of these will help you get more confident about sprouting other seeds and beans that take longer to grow or are slightly more tricky.

How to sprout

NB: In the text that follows, when I refer to a “seed” this applies to beans, pulses, nuts and grains equally.

Jar method

  1. Make sure your chosen jar is clean and oil-free, and pour in a handful or two of your chosen seed (which are dry at this point). Use just one type of seed per jar at this stage while you are still learning.
  2. Pour in some clean water (ideally not conventional tap water) until the seeds are covered by at least an extra inch. If you are sprouting beans which are fairly large, such as chickpeas (garbanzos) or aduki beans, make sure the water covers them by an extra 2 inches so that they have more water to soak up. This will be necessary as they have a much larger surface area than the small seeds.
  3. Cover your jar with a mesh lid of some kind. As mentioned earlier, this can be as basic as a piece of netting or you can use a jar with a mesh lid already integral to it. All that matters here is that nothing can get into the jar, except air which is a must.
  4. Leave the jar overnight or for 4-8 hours during the day so that the seeds have time to soak up the water. This is the beginning of the sprouting process. Different books suggest different time frames for different seeds but I have always found that a minimum of 4 hours works very well for any seed or bean I have tried, 8 hours certainly won’t hurt and in fact is generally better for the larger beans.
  5. At the end of the soaking period, drain off the water. When all the water has drained off, rinse the contents of your jar thoroughly making sure that the water is running completely clean. Drain once more. Make sure that all the water has been drained, otherwise your sprouts will rot before they grow. This is really important, and where most people go wrong. They just don't drain properly. A good way to make sure that all residual water has gone is to stand your jar upside down for a while, or rest it at an angle on a sprouting stand or in a standard kitchen draining rack. It may also be worth giving it a gentle shake to free up any remaining water.
  6. When fully drained, leave your jar to stand, either way up, on a kitchen counter or somewhere where the jar will be undisturbed. It doesn’t matter too much whether the jar is in light or dark at this stage, although direct sunlight is best avoided.
  7. If it is a warm time of year, rinse your sprouts twice daily as they will become more easily dehydrated; if it is colder, once will usually be enough. Be sure to drain well after each rinse.
  8. Continue the rinsing and draining each day until your sprouts are ready to eat.

And that’s all there is to it! Fresh sprouts of all shapes and sizes will be yours in 1 – 5 days depending on which ones you choose.

How do I know when to eat them?

A good rule of thumb is that in the case of sprouting seeds, such as cress, broccoli, alfalfa and so on, they will be long and green and simply look ready. This may sound overly simplistic, but it’s really that simple. Think about how shop-bought cress looks and use that as a guideline. The exceptions here are sesame, sunflower (hulled), and pumpkin which may swell up but should not be left to grow beyond a day or two. Sunflower seeds will develop tips and may split to form a ‘Y’ shape, but sesame and pumpkin seeds will simply look slightly plumper.

Nuts, like sesame and pumpkin seeds, really only need soaking. Nuts do not benefit from them literally sprouting (unless you are trying to grow a tree!) as nuts are best eaten simply rehydrated which is what soaking achieves. Nuts are best soaked for between 4 and 8 hours.

In the case of beans and grains these should be sprouted. The ideal sprout will be approximately the same length as the original bean/grain, or a bit shorter. If they grow too long or develop leaves they will taste bitter and should not be eaten, if they’re too short (a day old) they are often still too young and quite bland and starchy tasting, so more difficult to digest and generally unappetising. Two to three days is the usual time taken to grow a perfect bean or grain sprout.

Finally, yes, you do eat the whole sprout – seed and tail together!

Want to see me demo sprouting? Click here to watch me walk you through it on YouTube

Karen Knowler, The Raw Food Coach publishes "Successfully Raw" - a free weekly eZine for raw food lovers everywhere. If you're ready to look good, feel great and create a raw life you love get your FREE tips, tools and recipes now at www.TheRawFoodCoach.com.

dealing with skeptics

How to Deal With Raw Sceptics
Posted on June 7, 2013 by Karen Knowler

If you’re thinking of transitioning to a raw food lifestyle, you may well be asking yourself: “What will people say?”

One of the most common issues people have around eating raw is the social ramifications. Will you suddenly become a social outcast, or will people think you’ve gone “weird”?

Isn’t it ironic that when we try to look after ourselves better, especially through food, that the people around us so often try to talk us out of it, stand in our way, tempt us, tease us, make life a little bit difficult or just make negative comments that, in the end, often derail us? It’s so easy to succumb, if only for an easier life.

If aliens visited our planet and observed what we ate, what we considered food and how we treated our most valuable possession (our body), wouldn’t they run off laughing or shaking their heads in disbelief? And yet our immediate families typically think that the more processed and junk food they feed us, the more “loving” and “caring” they’re being! We do know that they mean well, but really…?

Time for a little reframing maybe?

Depending on how far you are into your journey to health, you may already have learned that sometimes you just have to keep things to yourself! Even in the 21st century, an age where almost anything seems possible, sitting down and eating a truly healthy “live” meal is often still seen by the majority as unconventional, rather anti-social and even, unfortunately, downright weird.

This is the reality most of us find ourselves in. Things are definitely improving though – I don’t doubt for one moment that raw food nutrition is the way things are heading – but as yet, the movement towards live nutrition isn’t quite fast enough to allow most of us to eat healthily without taking some stick for it!

Now, accepting that as a reality, we have two choices:

We make our food choices to please ourselves
We make our food choices to please others
(Remember who has to live with the consequences though.)

There can be a third option – a 50/50 approach – and that is the one I suggest you take at the start of your journey. That way you get to feel some of the benefits, and you also get to eat with your family, friends, partner and colleagues without having to listen to all the reasons why “you’ll fade away eating all that rabbit food” (you won’t) or why “you need a good hearty meal inside you” (you do – just not comprising of meat and potatoes!).

That said, if you’re braver than I was and think you can take anything that life or the people in your life can throw at you, then by all means set your own pace.

You will come under the spotlight for your “strange eating habits” right from the start if you make a public announcement, so bear this in mind while making the transition!

You know why you’re eating raw and you know the benefits you can expect to gain. You can look forward to limitless energy, vibrancy and optimal health – and isn’t that worth putting up with a few less-than-positive comments in the beginning?

"Karen Knowler, The Raw Food Coach publishes “Successfully Raw” – a free weekly eZine for raw food lovers everywhere. If you’re ready to look good, feel great and create a raw life you love get your FREE tips, tools and recipes now at www.TheRawFoodCoach.com"

tummy issues?

this month's theme: the tummy

Recently, the questions I've been getting are related to "tummy" issues (colon, intestines, digestion, etc.). Let me address the cause of these, and ways to heal it.

As you know, ALL physical problems are manifested by us, caused by an emotional problem. You *must* address the emotional problem!

For example, a problem with the colon is caused by holding on to the past, and fear of letting go. The positive affirmation for this is: "I easily release that which I no longer need. The past is over and I am free."

Stomach problems are caused by dread, fear of the new, or inability to assimilate the new. The positive affirmation for this is: "Life agrees with me. I assimilate the new every moment of every day. All is well."

Indigestion is caused by gut-level fear, dread, anxiety, griping and grunting. The positive affirmation for this is: "I digest and assimilate all new experiences peacefully and joyously."

Are you starting to see the pattern? Of course, we are all born with emotional issues passed down from generations, as well as whatever our parents are dealing with when we are conceived and during childhood. These can be healed! Contact me anytime to set up a healing session for you, your friends or loved ones.

As to the physical causes of "tummy" issues, here are my suggestions:

  • Drink lots and lots of filtered water (ideally with fresh lemon juice). Almost all of us don't drink enough water. We should be drinking, at a minimum, half our weight in ounces of filtered water every day. If you consume coffee or caffeinated tea or soda, for every ounce of coffee, tea or soda, add another TWO ounces of water (caffeinated drinks are diuretics, and pull the water from our tissues).
  • Consume plenty of fiber in the form of fresh vegetables and fruits. Raw is best, and lightly cooked is also OK. This should be 80% of our diet.
  • Combine your foods properly! There's an excellent explanation of this in Natalia Rose's book, The Raw Food Detox Diet.
  • Avoid processed foods, like sugar, flour and white rice. These are not food anyway, they are all toxic. But to add insult to injury, highly processed foods become GLUE in our bodies, clogging our intestines and colon.
  • Get a professional colon hydrotherapy once a month (at least), and do an enema of at least 1 litre of water weekly. This will help keep everything moving, and get the toxins out.
  • Happy Tummy essential oil - this excellent blend of oils is made for the Living Foods Institute by Herbs of Light. It contains peppermint, juniper, anise, fennel, ginger room and tarragon in a base of coconut oil. It is anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory. It soothes stomachaches and aids digestion and digestive disorders. It increases circulation through the kidneys, and promotes excretion of uric acid and toxins. It purifies, detoxifies, and is a natural diuretic. It is a digester of toxic materials in the body like cellulite. It helps curb the appetite, expel worms and calm gall bladder contractions, colitis, flatulence and intestinal pain. (This is available on my web site.)
  • Herbs of Light herb blends, like Colon Assist, Digestion/Stomach, Health Assist and Parasite. These will all help with overall health and specific digestive issues. I recommend the Parasite blend in particular. We all have parasites, and when our immune systems become compromised, or our pH is too acidic, they can flourish, causing all sorts of symptoms.
  • Probiotics! Most people do not get enough probiotics in their diet. In our gut, there are ten bacteria to each one of our cells! So, in order to stay healthy and digest properly, we need to keep those healthy bacteria happy and plentiful. Click on the E3Live link on my web page to get their probiotics. And remember: antibiotics (translation: anti-life) will kill the healthy bacteria in our bodies, causing major damage, especially for children! Antibiotics are never truly necessary, except in some rare life-or-death circumstances. If you or your loved ones has taken antibiotics in the last few years, you are still recovering from that damage, so be sure to take probiotics every day.
  • Digestive enzymes (also from E3Live) are almost a necessity, and ARE a necessity if your diet is not mostly raw plant foods. Most of us have used up our finite allotment of enzymes by the time we are in our 20s (these days, it happens much younger). Those enzymes are necessary for ALL our body's functions, for example, to keep your heart beating. When we eat cooked foods and animal products, our enzymes are diverted from what they were *supposed* to be doing, and things start going wrong. Once we use up our enzymes, we don't generate more. So, please, take a digestive enzyme with every meal. It will help break down whatever you have eaten.
  • Greens, greens, and more greens. Make sure you get enough fresh, organic greens daily. This is a food group that our bodies need more than anything else, to maintain the proper pH balance and get all the nutrition we need.
  • If you would like me to work with you to design a plan of health just for you, contact me and I'll be happy to help.

Good source of tempting raw recipes!

I was looking for an interesting fruit salad recipe for mom's party next week, and found this:

http://www.rawmazing.com/fruit-salsa-with-feijoa-blossoms/

And then I decided to share not only the recipe, but the Rawmazing web site with all of you! Not only is it FULL of incredible recipes, but it's educational. You can sign up for her free newsletter, and buy books and eBooks for yourself and as gifts. Enjoy!

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