Published Articles by The Sacred Chef
Sacred Chef Cookbook “secrets and recipes” Just Published
The Heart of Good Food
Published in Holistic Bliss Magazine Vol 18.
Great things are starting to happen within our communities to do with nutrition and food as medicine. We are starting to see in quite a few select schools, driven by proactive parents on the P & C committees, the establishment of permaculture veggie gardens and their linking to school canteen menus. Of course we watched Jamie Oliver on TV, start a desperately needed revolution in British school canteens, where the fare on offer, was in true British culinary style “the pits.” Closer to home we have Stephanie Alexander’s School Kitchen Garden Project and the Kitchen Garden Foundation, which has close to one hundred schools in Australia now participating. The aim of this program is to create pleasurable food education for young children, with the belief being, that through this holistic association we can positively influence our children’s food choices in ways that have not been tried before.
“A Kitchen Garden is created to provide edible, aromatic and beautiful resources for a kitchen. The creation and care of a Kitchen Garden teaches children about the natural world, about its beauty and how to care for it, how best to use the resources we have, and an appreciation for how easy it is to bring joy and wellbeing into one’s life through growing, harvesting, preparing and sharing fresh, seasonal produce.” (quote from kitchengardenfoundation.org.au)
I am about to start at the Montville Primary School, here on the sunshine coast hinterland, as a supplier of healthy food services to their P & C run tuckshop. They have already established their own permaculture kitchen garden and I will be making use of this in my weekly menus for the school canteen. Although not directly involved with the Kitchen Garden Foundation, many of us who are involved have been inspired by it to create our own thing for our kids at the school.
It is important to realise, I think, that the free market, through its expressions in our marketplaces – fast food operations in shopping centres and on main roads; TV and Internet advertising; and even school programs in some instances – is constantly sending a message to our children encouraging them to consume its products and they are not overly concerned with the nutritional value of their fare. It is simply about making more money. So we cannot just sit back and let things run their course without endangering the health and future health of our kids. That is why programs such as the Kitchen Garden Foundation are so important.
Moving from schools to hospitals, finally something is about to be done about the appalling absence of nutritional standards in our hospital kitchens. It has always amazed me that food has not been considered part of the healing process in our hospitals – which is of course a direct result of their complete reliance on the pharmaceutically controlled medical establishment. Again as there was no money to be made from selling nutrition, then they did not particularly bother with it. The Garling Inquiry in NSW, recently found that elderly patients were literally starving in hospitals and suffering from malnutrition – due to the parlous state of hospital food and nurses claiming that they did not have the time to monitor whether the patient had or could consume the meal provided.
Hospitals will now be forced to show that they are actively preventing malnutrition from occurring or risk their accreditation. The Australian Council on Healthcare Standards will now include a nutritional standard in its Evaluation and Quality Improvement Program and it will apply to 1200 public and private hospitals around the country. So there is now less chance that you will die in one of our hospitals – gotta be good news! Perhaps Masterchef will run its next series out of Royal Brisbane Hospital or even Nambour Hospital.
Eating good food and taking the time to eat well is vitally important to maintaining our health. It is not just what you eat but also how you eat it, which makes a big difference to our well-being. Eat joyously in celebration of life and don’t eat anxiously concerned about your health. Cook your own food as much as you can and if you cannot cook, learn how to – it can be fun and you will meet lots of great people in the process. Bon appétit!
Sudha Hamilton is The Sacred Chef www.sacredchef.com and cooks, writes and teaches here on the sunshine coast.
Kitchen Garden Foundation – http://www.kitchengardenfoundation.org
Garling Inquiry – http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/news/2008/20080125_00.html
Food as Medicine.
Published in WellBeing Magazine
Great leaps in understanding have recently occurred within nutritional medicine. For many years what we ate was studiously ignored by the scientific community, and with the funding for many of their studies coming from pharmaceutical companies, who focus on patenting artificial derivatives we can see why. There is no serious money to be made from food as medicine and this is another shining example of where the free market economy does not serve the whole person within the whole community.
In matters of nutritional health we need some guidance beyond the money making principle, we need in my opinion our governments to get up to speed on these matters and to offer some leadership. Which we are now seeing to some extent here in Australia, with the senate enquiry into childhood obesity. The huge costs, we as a community are now facing in maintaining a national health budget that continues to blow out in managing hospitals in particular, which are basically dealing with things when they have reached the ‘too late’ stage, may finally spur our political leaders to seek a preventative health strategy. It will not be cheap to begin with, we will have to spend more educating doctors, health professionals and the media so that they can pass that knowledge onto the general public. Eventually however in ten to twenty years it will save billions of dollars & improve the quality and life expectancy of our societies.
A perfect example of the institutionalised neglect of food is in our hospitals, where meals are still served with scant regard for their potentially healing properties. Unappetising fare produced by those without the most up to date knowledge of nutritional medicine and with definitely little understanding of the importance of colour, freshness & presentation is not serving us well in our healing instititions. The highly publicised TV chef Jamie Oliver and his recent attempt to revolutionise a British school canteen highlights a similar need to reappraise our attitudes to the diets of our children. It has been quite a journey that so called health food has been on, since the nineteen sixties & seventies when those who consumed mung beans and lentils were derided as hippies, up until now, where we see the large supermarkets rapidly expanding their range of organic foods to cater for ever growing demand. We in the general community tend to receive nutritional health information in piece meal bits that have filtered through by word of mouth, stray news reports and the like. For example suddenly the concern may be the high level of salt in processed foods, then it is bad fats like monounsaturated fats versus polyunsaturated fats, low carbohydrate diets or high fibre diets and so on. We hear the alarm bell warning, “don’t eat this or that,” but we do not understand the whole picture as it is either considered too complex for the media or we just want the result and can’t be bothered how we got there.
Continued in Sacred Chef Secrets and Recipes by Sudha Hamilton
As appeared in WellBeing Magazine.
Miracle Healing Mushroom
Published in Conscious Living Magazine
Mushrooms or rather Fungi are intrigueing organisms, with certain species being the largest known on this planet (covering hundreds of kilometres) & with more species of fungi (1-2 million) than any other.
Even more bizarrely, the mushroom has been seriously suggested as one of our true visitors from outer space, with the spores having travelled here aboard meteorites millennia ago. Perhaps those mushrooms with psychotropic properties really do have something to say to us. Certain species of mushrooms are also known to have great healing qualities & the Lingshi(Chinese) or Reishi(Japanese) mushroom, which is known botanically as Ganoderma lucidum is perhaps the greatest of these. Widely revered & utilised in Traditional Chinese Medicine for over 4000 years, it is probably the oldest species of mushroom to have been utilised medicinally. Lingzhi in Chinese has been translated to mean’ “herb of spiritual potency.” In Shen Nong’s Herbal Classic, dating back 2000 years & considered to be the oldest book on oriental herbal medicine, the Linghzi mushroom is ranked number one superior medicine of all 365 listed healing herbs.
Ganoderma is a bracket fungus, which in nature grows at the base of deciduous trees like the maple. It is however quite rare in the wild & is now cultivated commercially both indoor under sterile conditions & outside in controlled environments. It is the polysaccharides & triterpenes contained within Ganoderma’s fruiting body & mycelia that have shown to have efficacy in improving immune system functioning. Ganoderma lucidum is the only known source of a group of triterpenes, called ganoderic acids, which have a remarkably similar molecular structure to steroid hormones. Also contained within the mushroom are ergostol, coumarin, mannitol, lactones, alkaloids, unsaturated fatty acids & vitamins B1, B2 & B6 & a variety of minerals.
Numerous studies in medical institutions around the world have been conducted into the healing abilities of Ganoderma lucidum & it has shown a remarkable effectiveness in treating an amazing array of diseases & conditions. Western medicines desire to isolate compounds from nature so that they can be synthetically reproduced by pharmaceutical corporations have been frustrated by inconsistent results in the studies of the isolated ingredients within Ganoderma that were thought to be the active constituents. This leads many experts to speculate that it is the combination of these active ingredients that may be the answer to its magical healing qualities. Research has shown Ganoderma’s effectiveness in strengthening the respiratory system, with healing of the lungs & benefits to those with asthma & bronchial complaints. It is generally considered to be an excellent restorative, improving immune system functioning. It has also shown to be anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-parasitic, anti-fungal & anti-allergenic. Altogether a healing superfood of the highest order. Recent studies in Australia have included a clinical trial at the University of Western Sydney into the healthy maintenance of blood pressure, blood sugar & cholesterol levels for optimum heart function with the aid of Ganoderma supplementation. Also studies at the University of Sydney in its Herbal Medicines & Research Unit confirmed the presence of high levels of anti-oxidants.
In the preparation of Ganoderma extracts it has been found that the oil within the spores contains a greater presence of the active compounds that are thought to be responsible for its amazing healing properties than the body of the fruit itself & that there is a husk or spore wall around the oil within. When this husk is removed it allows greater absorption by the body of the active constitutes, recent break throughs in the extraction have now made this possible.
High quality extracts of Ganoderma are now available in supplement form & are beginning to be included as ingredients in teas & other beverage formats.
Appeared in Conscious Living Magazine.
Posted in Published Articles, health, nutrition with tags cordyceps, Cordyceps Sinensis, distance runners, Dong Chong Xia Cao, fungi, health, liver tonic, mushroom, nutrition, stamina, TCM, traditional Chinese medicine on December 27, 2008 by sacredchef
The Stamina Mushroom
Published in Conscious Living Magazine
In the 1990’s a group of female, Chinese, distance runners broke world records in their events by considerable margins. The apparent ease of their wins attracted a great deal of suspicion in regard to possible illegal drug use, but what emerged was not a steroid or erythropoietin (EPO) tainted athletic performance rather a rediscovery of an ancient Chinese remedy centred around Cordyceps Sinensis. Cordyceps are very rare and unique fungi, also known in China as Dong Chong Xia Cao (“Summer Grass, Winter Worm”), it has been highly regarded and effectively utilised in Traditional Chinese Medicine for well over 2000 years. It grows in the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau, at an altitude of about 3,500 metres and can only be harvested in relatively small quantities. Its positive effect on increasing stamina was first observed by Tibetan shepherds, when their flock of yaks had consumed the fungi whilst eating the summer grasses and then proceeded to mate more vigorously than previously observed. In the wild it has a symbiotic relationship with a particular variety of caterpillars, which consume it and then become one with it on a cellular level.
What actually are fungi?
Fungi are a division of eukaryotic organisms, which grow in irregular masses, and are without roots, stems, or leaves; they are also devoid of chlorophyll or other pigments capable of producing photosynthesis. Fungi contain ergo sterol instead of cholesterol in their plasma membranes. They reproduce sexually or asexually (spore formation), and may obtain nutrition from other living organisms as parasites or from dead organic matter as saprobes. Fungi have a well-defined cell wall composed of polysaccharides and chitin; they can be moulds, yeasts, or dimorphic.
Cordyceps Sinensis is now being safely grown and processed to be available in capsule form, this process does not involve caterpillars. Its use in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) centres on its properties as a liver tonic and it stimulates the system encouraging greater stamina. Cordyceps has powerful active ingredients, which can help restore the normal functioning of the body, stimulate immune response, increases energy, vitality, and longevity. Recent research has shown that Cordyceps can improve peak performances during sports, and also has muscle-building capability. In TCM, Cordyceps has been used to help regulate blood pressure, strengthen the cardiovascular system, and improve sexual energy. Clinical tests performed at the Hunan Medical University have shown that Cordyceps significantly contributed to increased levels of libido in the test subjects. Further clinical studies, primarily with elderly patients with fatigue, showed that Cordyceps-treated patients reported improvements in their wellbeing, ability to tolerate cold temperatures, memory retention and cognitive capacity. According to the biochemical analysis of Cordyceps species it is noted that they contain interesting properties like Cordycepin, which has been used to create the pharmacological drug Ciclosporin – which is helpful in suppressing the body’s immune system during organ transplants. In 1950’s the chemical constituent of Cordyceps were determined by and a crystalline substance was isolated and named Cordyceps acid. This acid was later identified to be D-mannitol and further studies were performed to identify the constituents of the fungus. The chemical substances isolated were; ‘amino acids, steric acid, D-mannitol, mycose, ergo sterol, uracil, adrenine, adenosince, palmitic acid, cholesterol palmitate and 5α-8α-epidioxy-5α-ergosta-6, 22-dien-3β-ol’.
My own personal experience in taking a Cordyceps supplement was that it immediately acted on my liver and stimulated similar sensations to when I was on a liver cleansing program. I did then begin to feel greater levels of stamina in my day to day life and it encouraged me to be more aware of parts of my diet which were not in tune with a liver cleansing program. I would recommend a juice fast and/or a raw vegetable diet for a few days before beginning taking Cordyceps, to maximise its efficacy. It is also recommend, by TCM consultants engaged by the manufacturers, taking the supplement first thing upon awakening and last thing before retiring to sleep – two capsules a day drunk with plenty of warm water for the kidneys. Whether you are feeling run down and needing a potent natural lift or perhaps you actually are preparing for a marathon, Cordyceps could be the answer for you.
Appeared in Conscious Living Magazine.
Posted in Published Articles, health, nutrition with tags antioxidants, dark chocolate, Goji, goji berries, health, Lycium Barbarum, organic, polysaccharides, vitamins, Wolfberry on December 27, 2008 by sacredchef
A Closer Look at a Yummy Superfood!
Everywhere I look these days I am seeing the word Goji, in cereals, coated in chocolate, as a juice & as dried berries.
What is the real story behind this berry? Is it the real thing? A real superfood? Or more marketing hype?
The Goji or Wolfberry has been traditionally used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for around 2000 years & is now coming under the closer scrutiny of western medicinal research. Lycium Barbarum, as it is known botanically, has a long history of medicinal usage in the orient & more recently medical trials have been happening in China & Japan. One Australian company, Tree of Health, has begun scientific studies at the Southern Cross University into the efficacy of the unique combination of polysaccharides contained in high levels in Goji berries. The ongoing research into the roles that these polysaccharides play in our biochemical make-up has excited many nutritional experts around the world. Longevity through cellular health is the buzz that is reverberating around much of the Goji literature.
The Goji berry is an important tonic ingredient in TCM & has traditionally been used to foster long life. Both the berries & the roots are used in preparations that strengthen the kidneys, nourish the liver & increase libido. Carotenoids contained in Goji berries are considered to be why its ingestion has contributed to reports of improved eye sight. Goji berries are nutritionally very rich, with lots of phytonutrients, Vitamin C, amino acids & polysaccharides (complex carbohydrates). The fresh Goji berry is one of the world’s richest sources of Vitamin C & that alone is probably a good reason to get on the Goji. Antioxidants of course play a big role in the anti-ageing effect of a good diet in combating free radicals & Goji berries have a particularly high antioxidant rating, due to the range of rich phytonutrients they contain. There is much speculation into the causes of diseases, like the many forms of cancer & heart disease, being linked to free radical molecule activity amid low levels of antioxidants with the body. Eat well = live well.
There are many personal testimonials, by both doctors & patients, in the Goji berry literature, who have noticed profound improvements to a variety of conditions. Arthritis, diabetes, heart disease & many more, but there are not the double blind tests in place at this time to prove this true to the satisfaction of our scientific community & the bodies like the Therapeutic Goods Administration that govern our health industry. However many healing practitioners are of the opinion, based on their professional experience, that if something is contributing to an improvement in your overall wellbeing then it is often no surprise when the body begins to heal itself of a particular condition. This again cuts to the crux of the self-empowerment versus patient = victim, in the health debate in this country & throughout the world.
Why now is there this great interest in supplements & superfoods amongst our population? Isn’t is a clear indication that people are wanting to take responsibility for their health & should not this preventative approach to medicine be actively supported by governments? Are the actions of the Complementary Healthcare Council & the Therapeutic Goods Administration a help or hindrance to furthering preventative medicine in this country? Questions that in my opinion need to be framed in the ongoing health debate into who has the power to heal, you & me or the AMA & the state.
Although Goji or “matrimony vine,” as it is also known, does grow wild in certain valleys of the Himalayas in Tibet, the Goji juice or berries that you or I can purchase will not be from there. Much of the commercial plantings are in China, in Ning Xia province in the northwest in the mineral rich lower reaches of the Yellow river. The use of the words Himalayan & Tibetan are more “feel good” branding than correct labelling of source. As recent international reports confirm there are concerns involving imported products from China, with one imported spice concoction containing salmonella & another here in Australia involving excessive use of formaldehyde in blankets, it is in my opinion worth investigating whether the Goji product that you buy has been checked in Australia for levels of pesticide usage & residue within the imported product. The National Measurement Institute in Australia provides this service to importers & distributors. There is currently no certified organic Goji product available.
I must admit from recent personal experience, that dried Goji berries coated in dark chocolate are absolutely delicious & that I did notice a bit of lift in my energy levels the next day. As a big fan of food that tastes great perhaps it is only fitting that a true superfood does taste really good!
Appeared in Conscious Living Magazine.
For More House Therapy by Sudha Hamilton
Posted in Published Articles, health, nutrition with tags blood plasma, cellular health, cycle of life, marine phytoplankton, nutrition, oceans, sea minerals, single cell plants, superfood, vitamin source on December 27, 2008 by sacredchef
Superfood from the Sea!
What is it? Phytoplankton are single cell plants that inhabit the oceans of the world & are thought to be responsible for producing up to 90% of the Earth’s oxygen. Whales of course consume both plant & animal plankton in their diets. Recent nutritional studies are discovering that phytoplankton may indeed be a super-food for humans as well. Made up of many different micro-algae that are incredibly nutrient rich, phytoplankton forms the basis for all living life on our planet, through its vital role in photosynthesis. Their indispensable part in the carbon cycle is an indelible illustration of our holistic universe, with ancient dead algae over million of years forming fossil fuels like oil and coal, which when burnt produce carbon dioxide that is then transformed into oxygen by today’s marine phytoplankton. An ever repeating cycle of life.
If all life did indeed evolve from the sea as is theorised by science, there are signs within our physiology that provide a link to that origin, with the composition of human plasma (blood) and the fluid surrounding cell walls being remarkably similar to sea water. Diluted sea water contains almost the same concentration of minerals and trace elements as blood plasma and its sodium content matches that of blood also. Diluted sea water has been used in blood transfusions involving animals without any perceived adverse effects and there are calls for research into its use in humans. The micronutrients and electrolytes contained in phytoplankton are perfectly suitable for what our human cell membranes require when metabolising. What are our cell membranes made up of? Sugars, proteins and fats. Thus what we eat provides both the fuel that our cells need to function but also the very building blocks for their structure. A diet lacking in the necessary micronutrients will over time reduce effective metabolism and thus lead to disease.
What is the nutritional make-up of marine phytoplankton? The phytoplankton that we can now purchase is produced in sea farms or aqua-culturally and is pure micro-algae rather than cyanobacteria, which can be toxic. Within these micro-algae are a veritable cornucopia of nutritional riches – omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, thiamine (B1), selenium, potassium, superoxide dismutase (SOD), zinc, vitamin E, vitamin C, iron, electrolytes, folic acid, magnesium, niacin (B3), calcium, arginine, beta carotene, chlorophyll, manganese, phenylalanine, pantohenic acid (B5), bioflavanoids, biotin, aspartic acid, alanine, boron, methionine, molybdenum, nucleic acids, phosphorous, gamma linolenic acid, glutamine, lecithin, tyrosine, pyridoxine (B6) to name most of them. The extraction processes used in these farms create a phytoplankton food product that is full of phyto-nutrients and sea minerals.
Good nutrition contributes directly to the function and structure of all the organs that make-up our bodies. As Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician who founded his practice on the principle of observation, said “let food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.” Every system within our body benefits from a balanced nutritionally rich diet, our immune system in fighting off colds and flu’s, our digestive system in providing optimal energy, weight management and letting go of wastes via healthy kidneys, liver and bowels, our nervous system effecting mental functioning, and our endocrine system for our skin’s health. Shiny hair, healthy nails, clear eyes, and restful sleep are all indicators of good health and are all influenced by what we eat and drink. Phytoplankton is the perfect food for healthy cell functioning and provides high levels of anti-oxidants for the maintenance of our bodies on this cellular level.
You know I was once very sceptical about all the positive health claims that many health supplements purport to induce but once I understood that true wellbeing is about our cellular health then it was obvious that all conditions are linked to this. Having grown up in a time when the prevalent view of allopathic medicine had reduced diseases into distinct specialised fields I could not then see the interconnectedness of these conditions. The recent expansion in our knowledge of nutritional science has dispelled that all too often cynical standpoint taken by some in the medical fraternity in regard to things like so called super-foods. In fact, many supplements, like marine phytoplankton, are now being championed by doctors around the world.
If our capitalistic economy has failed to deliver the necessary nutritional building blocks in the food that it produces and sells to us, and instead leaves us with supermarket shelves groaning with over packaged items made of refined sugars, fats and carbohydrates then we may need to source our own nutritionally rich foods like marine phytoplankton in concert with other organic foods. Otherwise we are likely to end up over weight, functioning poorly and eventually succumbing to disease. At a time of weak governments and overly powerful unfettered corporate giants, the need to take your own health into your own hands has never been more acute.
Continued in Sacred Chef Secrets and Recipes by Sudha Hamilton
Appeared in Conscious Living Magazine.
Posted in Published Articles, health, nutrition with tags algae, anti-oxidants, Aztecs, complete protein, essential amino acids, feed the world, free radicals, nutrition, spirulina, superfood, vitamin source on December 27, 2008 by sacredchef
Spirulina the original Algae Superfood!
Spirulina is the name commonly used to refer to a food supplement produced primarily from micro blue-green algae, which lives on sunlight through photosynthesis in alkaline waters. It has been highly valued as an excellent source of nourishment by many different cultures for centuries. Now widely available in many different forms – tablet, powder, flake & liquid, it is fast becoming one of the better known so called “superfoods.”
Historically Spirulina is thought to have been a food source for the Aztecs, as reported by the Spanish in the 16C, during their occupation of parts of Central America. After its harvesting from Lake Texcoco, which is located in Mexico, it was sold in a cake form. The Aztecs apparently called it Tecuitlati, meaning stone’s excrement, perhaps indicating they were not mad on the taste of it but recognised the nutritional value despite this. Researchers in the 1960’s found a plentiful supply of Spirulina at Lake Texcoco & the world’s first large scale production plant was established there in the 1970’s.
The cultivation of Spirulina takes place on lakes & in open channel raceway ponds, with paddle wheels used to agitate the water. It grows naturally in lakes in China, Mexico & Chad & is now being cultivated commercially in these places. Further commercial cultivation of Spirulina is now taking place in Thailand, the USA, India, China, Taiwan & Myanmar. There has been much discussion over the last few decades about the ability of micro-algae’s like Spirulina to become superior food sources that could feed the hungry in the third world & hopefully end malnutrition & starvation amongst the poor. Indeed space agencies like NASA & the European Space agency have proposed Spirulina to be a likely candidate as a food source that could be cultivated aboard spacecraft during lengthy journeys.
Spirulina is a complete protein & contains unusually high amounts of protein in comparison to all other plant sources. The nutritional content of Spirulina are many and varied, with all 8 essential amino acids and 10 non-essential amino acids present. It is also a rich source of vitamin C, B complex & E. The provitamin Beta Carotene is also contained in Spirulina & this is turned into Vitamin A by our bodies. Its deep green colour comes from its rainbow of natural pigments – chlorophyll (green), phycocyanin (blue) and carotenoids (orange) – that harvest the sun’s energy. Spirulina is easy-to-digest, which means that the nutrients are absorbed quickly. Spirulina is also a natural source of iron. Spirulina contains anti-oxidants, which of course are important in reducing the effect of free radicals that contribute to the ageing process & setting up a conducive environment for diseases. It has many unique phyto-nutrients like phycocyanin, polysaccharides and sulfolipids that enhance the immune system, possibly reducing risks of infection and auto-immune diseases. It has cleansing chlorophyll which helps detoxify our bodies of ever present pollution.
Any contentious issues involving Spirulina are mostly directed at the purity, quality of cultivation, harvesting & manufacturing processes. Whether certain spirulina’s are from organic, natural sources or rather artificially grown, often to avoid the possibility of toxic blue-green algae outbreaks that can occur in lakes around the world. In either case today’s Spirulina is cultivated in man- made ponds or strictly controlled water-ways. There is continuing scientific research into improving all aspects of cultivation & manufacturing. This really is a superfood that has the potential to not only greatly improve your own health but quite possibly feed the world as well. As we continue to over populate our planet & pollute our traditional food sources it may be time to turn to the wondrous spiral shaped micro-algae for our trip into the future.
Appeared in Conscious Living Magazine.