Mushrooms: meaty, mighty, medicinal

November 2, 2011



Having quality mushrooms in your repertoire will add new dimensions to your vegan life. Savory and grounding, they give you that satisfied feeling that some seek when replacing meat. And having been used in natural medicine for thousands of years, we reap multiple rewards for having mushrooms in our diets—immunologically, neurologically, energetically, and even spiritually. Mushrooms are complex organisms—no roots, seeds, or leaves, they seem neither plant nor animal, but otherworldly.

The studies on each variety are deep and fascinating. Medicinal varieties are known to have a dual-directional "special intelligence" when it comes to their healing properties, an ability to "know" how they are needed in our bodies, for example, either to be stimulating to a weak immune system or to subdue an overactive nervous response. And with DNA 80% identical to our own, medicinal mushrooms like reishi, shiitake, cordyceps, maitake, and chaga are used very efficiently by our immune, nervous, and cardiovascular systems.

David Wolfe and Paul Stamets are mycologists to follow to learn more about supplementing with medicinal mushrooms. General mushroom benefits include:
•Vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6, D.

•Quality (bio-available) essential amino acids (aka proteins).

•Iron, potassium, selenium, phosphorous, copper.

•Increased immunity against viruses, bacteria, pollution, and molds.

•Energy balancing, increased endurance. •Antioxidants, anti-cancer, anti-inflammation.

Okay, nutritionally beneficial, CHECK. Now on to eating and taste. I was recently craving something "meaty," but stood grossed out at the processed faux-meat selection at the store. I don't like single item foods that contain 1,000 ingredients. I waited out the craving and a few days later took a photo of this amazing mushroom bloom near a friend's house. That week, I found the same mushroom at the Hollywood Farmer's Market booth LA Funghi (did the universe bring it to me?! Is this the spiritual effects of mushrooms?!). It's called "Chicken of the Woods." WHOOOOAAAA. Check out that texture, right? We marinated it in a little olive oil, lemon juice, rosemary, salt, and mustard, and sauteed it in a bit of water. Craving 100% satisfied.

It's in season, so it's a staple in our fridge right now. Last night, I made a chicken-of-the-woods noodle soup:



A google search for "gourmet mushrooms" and your zip code will find you the real "mycophiles" in your hood. And your local grocer will carry at least brown and white caps or portobellos (great for grilling and sandwhiches) and shiitake (easy addition to miso soups). Pick only the ones that look fresh and free from wet spots and mold. You can even buy grow-at-home kits now.

Happy eating, happy living!

Why Vegan?

August 30, 2011

1. ANIMALS:
Whether animals are "free-range" organic or raised on a factory farm, there's no such thing as humane slaughter. Even most small, local farms must "process" their animals at USDA slaughterhouses in the end. Check this short overview of standard practices in the pork, poultry, dairy, beef, and seafood industries. If you eat meat and dairy, you've had this in your belly:



2. FOOD & HEALTH:
We know that on a plant-based diet, Diabetes is being reversed (1) and people are living healthfully into their 100s (2); we know that an average MD gets less than 20 hours of nutritional training (3, 4), that Big Pharma literally has hires cheerleaders to rep their meds (5) and provides their loyal doctors with trips to Hawaii (6, 7); we know that the masses fighting for healthcare plans—eating the way they do, will continue to be sick unless they aim for health instead. We're over getting played. We now have access to the most innovative information and the best foods and natural medicines on Earth...and it turns out, the keys to health and longevity are simple.



3. POLITICS: What we eat is linked to every major political issue there is: world hunger, environment and climate change, energy, water waste, civil and labor rights, healthcare, oppression, wildlife and endangered species, and more. By going vegan, you push and pull your support of these issues more directly and more often than you can at the voting booth. Put your money where you mouth is and use the most powerful political tool we have to influence change.

4. ENVIRONMENT: The U.N. reported in 2006 that animal agriculture causes more pollution than all forms of transportation combined. Both eating and wearing animals is dirty business, directly contributing to global land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water waste and contamination, and loss of biodiversity. This is not the trail we wish to leave behind.

5. CONSCIOUSNESS: If we hear one more animal-eating yogi utter "Loka samasta sukhino bhavantu" (May all beings everywhere be happy and free); if we are solicited by one more Greenpeace street-volunteer who still eats fish; if we're invited to one more hot-dog barbeque in celebration of Juneteenth...you get the picture.

Blue Zones and Cold Spots

August 26, 2011


Photo © David McLain, National Geographic

In several places around the world, termed "blue zones," people live with mobility and vigor into their 100s. And in the "cold spots" of the world, there is little to none of the disease or chronic conditions that "plague" the West.

No, these areas are not full of the rich who can pay for the best food and medicine. In fact, most of these people are financially poor. They can't afford a herd of animals and they don't have refrigerators. So they eat plant-based diets and bury their food (before the age of appliances, fermentation was a standard way of preserving food). They commune with their families and neighbors, they feel a sense of connectedness and purpose, and they've made moving their bodies a priority in life.

Sounds rich to us—this is about quality of life. What do people from the blue zones and cold spots have in common? Here's what we can learn:

•Eat a plant-based diet:
These people eat little to no meat. Instead, the bulk of their diet is simple whole foods, deep greens, healing herbs, and spices.

•Eat small portions:

it's a documented fact that the less one eats, the longer one lives. The heavier your meals—especially food unnatural to the human system, the more wear, tear, and burden on your energy and every cells in your bod.

•Eat good raw fats:
Coconut, olive oil, chlorella, avocado, raw cacao (omega-6), omega-3 (hempseed, chia, flax, AFA blue green algae). Healthy fats seem more important than protein in these diets, demonstrating a few interesting things.
A) If you eat food, you get enough protein.
B) Fats contain more calories than protein (9:4 cal/g), which means longer sustaining energy.
C) When you think you're craving protein, you're most likely in need of good fat.

•Eat fermented foods:
Kimchee, coconut kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, these foods contain billions of "good bacteria" (probiotics) that promote health in the gut—thought to be the core of the immune system.

•Socialize:
B
e part of a community. Show up, have someone's back, and let others get yours, too.

•Keep it movin':
Dance, walk, garden, shake it...at least sit on the floor and stretch while you're watching TV!  

 

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