Carica papaya, a melonlike fruit, was discovered by Spanish explorers in Central America in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and quickly became a favorite fruit, nicknamed “the fruit of the angels.” They spread it across the world to other subtropical regions, including the Philippines and India. It has rich orange flesh with pinkish or yellowish hues and can grow up to 20 inches and weigh more than a pound. Fully ripe, it has a soft consistency and sweet, musky taste. The black seeds found at its center are surrounded by a gelatinous substance and are edible though bitter.

 

Linked to Wikipedia

Linked to Wikipedia

Nutritional highlights and health benefits include:

  • Excellent source of antioxidant nutrients–carotenes, vitamin C, and flavonoids
  • Good source of folic acid, vitamin E, vitamin A, potassium, and fiber
  • Contains papain, an enzyme that helps digest proteins; it is more concentrated in unripened papaya, and is used similarly to bromalain (in pineapple) to treat conditions like indigestion, hay fever, and allergies
  • Provides protective benefits against cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses associated with free-radical damage

 

Select a papaya that has a reddish-orange skin and is slightly soft to the touch for immediate consumption. Those with yellow patches need a few extra days to ripen at room temperature. Ripe papayas stored in the refrigerator should be consumed withing 1-2 days for maximum flavor and enjoyment. No known allergies or safety concerns are associated with this yummy fruit. Below are a few tips for serving:

 

  • Eat papayas whole or in fruit salad
  • Juice them
  • Sprinkle with fresh lime juice before eating
  • Fill a seedless half of a papaya with fruit salad
  • For a unique salsa, combine papaya with cilantro, jalapeno peppers and ginger, and serve with seafood like shellfish or white fish
  • Combine in blender with strawberries and yogurt for a cold soup
  • Add to skewers and barbecue
  • Serve wedges with thinly sliced smoked turkey
  • Rather than discarding them, use the seeds in cooking as a garnish (atop a salad) or like whole peppercorns (dried and ground in a blender) as they have a spicy, pepperlike taste
  • Cut in half, de-seed, and sprinkle cavities with cinnamon and nutmeg and bake like you would apples
  • Unripe papaya can be treated like a vegetable (i.e. add to stews)

 

Fruit from a papaya tree, which can grow upwards of 20 feet, will start appearing about 18 months after planting. Its fruit is spherical or oblong in shape. Hybrids include Babaco (Ecuadoran and yellow, but can get mushy if cooked too long), Mexican (can reach up to two feet in length and weigh up to 10 pounds, and come in red and yellow varieties!), and Solo (most commonly seen in supermarkets, grown in Hawaii, and come in “Sunrise” and “Strawberry” varieties).

 

For more about this luscious fruit, check out this article from Dr. Oz!

Sources

Murray, Michael N.D., Pizzorno, Joseph N.D., and Pizzorno, Lara M.A., L.M.T. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. Atria Books, New York, NY, 2005; p. 299-301.

Margen, Sheldon M.D. and the editors of UC Berkeley Wellness Letter. Wellness Foods A-Z: An Indispensable Guide for Health-conscious Food Lovers. Rebus, Inc, New York, NY, 2002; p. 438-439, 524.

Fats vs. Fiction

October 24, 2013

Let’s face it, fats have gotten a bad rap in the past forty or fifty years, thirty at the minimum. In Sugar: The Bitter Truth, Dr. Lustig argues that it is carbohydrates, not fats, that are causing people’s waistlines to expand. (I highly recommend watching the whole lecture.)

For those who don’t have the time to do so, the argument basically goes like this. Back in the Nixon era, politicians wanted to take food off the political campaign trail, so the president funded companies to research how to make food cheaper for Americans to buy–two studies were done, one on fats and one on carbohydrates (called Pure, White and Deadly). The fallacy of the former study was that the correlate study they mentioned–namely, that carbohydrates cause increased fat retention–was not conducted. This same study was the one government chose to found all of the nutrition campaigns that have since been launched across America (and even the world), including the Food Pyramid, My Plate, and even what was taught to doctors in medical school. (It’s interesting how now the scientific and medical communities are recognizing that carbohydrates, and the sheer volumes consumed by the average individual, is what’s causing increased rates of overweight and obesity, Type II Diabetes, heart disease, and even cancers.)

Interestingly, as I’ve been pondering this topic of fats and the benefits they give to our bodies, Dr. Oz did a segment (Monday, Oct. 21) on Alzheimer’s Disease and how grains might be poisoning the brain, leading to brain disease. He brought on neurologist, Dr. David Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain, who argues that all carbohydrates are bad and that we should be consuming healthy whole fats (cut out low-, no-fat foods). Here is the start of this fascinating Oz episode. Incidentally, Oz admits himself that more and more heart doctors (and other medical professionals) are recognizing the truth in Perlmutter’s claims.

(Another book you might consider reading, one that’s on my to-read list, is Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig. The authors spent a considerable amount of time looking at diet and how it affects health, and came to the same conclusion as Perlmutter. Fats are essential for long-term wellness.)

Great, you think. If I can’t have carbs, what can I eat? Perlmutter says “the dreaded fat,” the thing we’ve been warned against and have fought against for thirty-plus years. Not just any old fats, mind you. Heart healthy fats from plant and lean meat sources. (Sorry, bacon lovers.)

So, first of all, what is fat? You’ve heard of the terms “oil,” “fat,” and “lipid.” Technically speaking, the fat found in our bodies is a hydrophobic lipid. Oils are those fats which are liquids at room temperature while fats are those which are solids at room temperature. Lipids come in several forms, most of which are necessary for bodily functions: saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and trans fats. The last of these is unhealthy and happens when polyunsaturated fats are changed through food processing, and can alter cell membranes so that they don’t function properly any longer and elevate low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels (the “bad” cholesterol), among other problems.

The rest play important roles in the body:

  • Monounsaturated fats: contain one double-bond in the fatty acid chain, they lower LDL levels and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, and help develop and maintain the body’s cells. Examples of healthy sources: olives and olive oil, nuts and nut oils (buy cold-pressed oils and organically, if possible)
  • Polyunsaturated fats: contain more than one double-bond in the fatty acid chain, they are better known to us as omega-3’s and omega-6’s, both necessary to the body. Omega-6’s are pro-inflammatory and, although necessary, are often over-consumed, leading to chronic illness. Omega-3’s are anti-inflammatory, lowering the risks of heart attack and other inflammatory diseases. (Omega-9’s are not considered essential to diet.) Examples of healthy sources: Omega-6’s: sunflower and safflower oils; omega-3’s: deep sea fishes, grass-fed meats, flax seed
  • Saturated fats: triglycerides that contain no double-bonds, these are essential for cell membrane health and construction, bone health and calcium absorption, enhancement of the immune system, function of the brain and organs (including the skin). Examples of healthy sources: meats that are free-range and grass-fed, avocados, coconut oil (virgin, cold-pressed, organic)

With that said, foods that Perlmutter believes are good for brain health include vegetables grown “above ground,” whole fats (including butter) found in lean meats, and vegetable oils like avocado, olive and coconut, and whole-grain rice. He also believes that we should limit fruit consumption, though does not strike out the food group altogether. However, he does recommend avoiding grains, processed foods, sugars, vegetables grown “below ground” and those that are starchy, fatty meats, and those foods labeled “low fat” or “no fat.”

My personal take? I currently live in a desert and have a history of skin problems that runs in my family, including eczema and psoriasis. I’ve found that including healthy fats–my favorites being coconut and olive oils–in my diet has not only moisturized my skin against the damaging effects of this perpetually sunny, dry terrain but also (to me) has improved how I feel physically and think. Additionally, since my daughter was born, I began taking coconut oil orally and have seen improvements in the dry condition of her skin too.

As with all information posted on this blog, I advise that you consult with your physicians–ask questions and do research independently. Perhaps even read Perlmutter’s book. I plan to. But most of all, remember to live life in moderation. Too much of anything, even those delicious satiating fats, leads to imbalances in the body, all of which lead to disease. Remember also that happiness doesn’t hinge on a Hollywood-perfect body but how well we feel, so as a final thought, practice gratitude for the day given and the blessings to be found in life.

October 2013 Recipes

October 17, 2013

Well, I’m currently having a grand old time being a new mum. No, really! The Wee One is a sweet little thing, even when she crabs about dirty diapers (thereby making more laundry for me to do–I’m cloth diapering), hunger pangs (she eats constantly when awake), being too hot or too cold, and desirous of snuggle time 🙂 We love snuggle time the best, complete with her growing smiles, curiosity (when it strikes, we “play” and do “tummy time”–she’s getting very good at lifting her head), and tender love for her parents.

 

At any rate, I’ve not been on my blogs much this month but wanted to leave some delicious fall links for you to savor. Happy October! I hope you enjoy all the wonderful foods the harvest season has brought.

 

Dairy-free Quinoa Pudding

5 Mouthwatering Vegan Pumpkin Recipes

4 Quick Smoothie Recipes

Grain-free Coconut Muffins

3 Brands of Coconut Flour (review)

Pumpkin Patch Hummus

Basil-Beet Salad

Vegan Fudge Brownies

Vegan Cornmeal Buttermilk Biscuits

Coconut Butternut Squash Soup

Autumn Recipes for Every Course (collection)

Pear Coffee Cake Cookies

Cookies, Candy, Granola and Waffles

Pumpkin Truffles

Are Concerns Over Mercury-contaminated Fish Overblown? (article)

 

One more for you: Banana Bread. I know it’s not specifically “fall” food but I did make it the other day and it was delicious. Plus, it’s very, very simple and only has seven ingredients!

 

2 c. flour*

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1 c. sugar**

1/4 c. liquid Crisco***

1 egg

3-5 bananas, mashed

 

1. Combine dry ingredients.

2. Combine wet ingredients, including bananas, and add dry ingredients to them.

3. Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes or until knife comes out clean****

 

Substitutions and Alterations

*Use your favorite gluten-free flour, same amount, plus 1-1/2 tsp. xanthan gum (or 2 tsp. guar gum) in place of normal wheat flour

**Substitute 3/4 c. coconut palm sugar or agave nectar

***Use 1 c. applesauce for a fat-free option; or coconut or olive oil for heart-healthy alternatives instead of Crisco

****I was once told in a Traditional Chinese Medicine class that baking foods at over 300 F destroys fatty-acid chains, thereby making them toxic to the body. I’ve found that baking at 300 F does not take that much longer and the foods tend to be moister.

 

Also, for those who enjoy Banana Nut Bread, consider adding 1 c. walnuts (or favorite nut) to recipe prior to baking. Or, as in this last time, I added 1/2 tsp. cinnamon to the bread (no nuts, however) for a slightly spicy take. You could also use cardamom and ginger too.

Several months ago, I wrote a post about pregnancy (here) explaining my experience (thus far) and encouraging women that it was okay not to be the chipper, happy-go-lucky preggo lady society things we need to be. Frankly, pregnancy is hard, and harder on some than others. If you had an easy pregnancy, I envy you but am happy you didn’t have to experience mine. I vomited most of then 9+ months.

 

Last Tuesday, October 1, at 0834 our baby girl, Natalia Elizabeth, finally arrived! I labored for about 13 hours, pushing about one total, under the supervision of a very skilled, hilarious midwife and naval captain. The birthing team on deck that day was fabulous; in fact, everyone in Labor & Delivery (and the Multi-service Ward thereafter, where we stayed until discharged) were top notch. I feel very blessed to have delivered in a baby-friendly facility (and highly recommend finding one, if possible).

 

 

With regards to the labor and delivery, and subsequent stay thereafter, several rather amusing but eye-opening thoughts did pass through my head. I thought I’d share them with you. (Note: this may be too much information for some, but as I spent hours combing Google and baby forums for anything that would help me determine what the heck was going on, it might also be valuable.)

 

  • First and foremost, figuring out whether or not you’re in labor is confusing. There are so many indicators that may not indicate anything. Vaginal mucus discharge is one. It can be so thick and viscous, you aren’t sure whether or not you’ve lost your plug. (Note: heavy bleeding that soaks more than one pad an hour, or a discharge that is tan or green (or some other worrisome color), contact your doctor immediately.) I never quite figured out if I lost my plug. I merely kept waiting for labor to begin because, as I thought at the time, worrying about this kind of thing doesn’t help your body to relax in preparation for the approaching work.
  • You just might explode. Quite literally. I experienced a strong, somewhat painful popping sensation as the husband and I were driving back into town. I liken it to a fist suddenly punching through a latex balloon. A gush of fluid came next…and it turned out that it wasn’t my water breaking.
  • Husbands do panic, even combat veterans. Mine stepped on the accelerator the moment he realized I might have started going into labor. I had to calm him down in order to take some lead out of his food (and keep us from getting a ticket). Therefore, also remember that keeping your head despite whatever might happen is good for the both of you.
  • While 14 hours from start to finish is the average for labor, it can go faster than that. It can also go slower. And you might end up having to go to the hospital more than once. I did; twice, in fact, within five hours’ time. The second time, thankfully, they didn’t send me home though I wasn’t dilated enough (initially). As there was another labor in progress when I arrived, they forgot about me for a bit. By the time they checked on me again, I was halfway there!
  • Know what you want going into the birth. If you want to do it naturally, you MUST go into it with the mindset that you’ll see it through to the end, regardless of the pain (oh, the pain!), unless you and/or the baby are in distress. (Don’t be hardheaded if something does happen. It’s not your fault that you might need emergency care, and it will safe one or both lives.)
  • Somewhere in the middle of labor, you will reconsider having all those children.
  • Somewhere in the transitional phase of labor, you’ll realize that you’re almost there.
  • You know when you’re ready to push because your body will start doing it for you. Don’t hesitate. Get the nurse, doctor, midwife, whomever and go for it.
  • You will believe that the baby will never come out.
  • You will believe that the baby will get stuck permanently as it crowns.
  • You will believe that you sound like a dying cow, or worse.
  • Your husband may crack jokes with the hospital staff while you’re pushing. Try not to kill them. Laughter still is the best medicine for the soul, even if you’re not the one doing it. And God knows they need to laugh after the stress of watching you go through intense labor pains.
  • Your midwife or doctor may tell you afterwards that you push “like a gorilla.” (I’ll take that as a compliment, thanks.)
  • It is highly uncomfortable to wait for them to cut the cord. Their pressing on your belly feels even worse.
  • However, no matter how it looks when it arrives, the alien that had inhabited your body for nine-plus months will no longer gross you out (unlike in the birthing videos). You’ll be more than happy to hold him/her skin-to-skin, still slimy and all.
  • No matter how uncool it is, your husband may consider skipping around the room for joy. He may also take charge and do sponge baths, change poop diapers, and generally try to hold the baby as much as he possibly can, all the while wearing a cross between the goofiest teenage grin you’ve ever seen and a look of tenderness that melts the heart.
  • You will be known as “the Boob,” according to baby. Best get used to it.
  • You’ll have never realized that, as happy as you were before the baby was born, you could be many times happier until the moment your baby arrives. Smile and immerse yourself in the joy.
  • Take advantage of the wisdom of those who have gone before you, including fun lactation consultants who are considering dressing up as the Milk Fairy for Halloween.
  • Remember: pregnancy was preparation; birth is the beginning of an amazing, blessed journey.

 

And when they finally release you from the hospital? You can hardly believe they’re letting you take this precious bundle of joy home. You’re a bit fearful of driving away. One of you will end up in the back seat, just to watch…in case. Their little heads bob around. They make faces, cry, or fall asleep. And then they sleep a lot…and eat a lot…and make messy diapers…and then do it all again, around the clock.

 

And you’ll still find your love for them growing…

Natalia on her first day in daddy's hands

Natalia on her first day in daddy’s hands

October 2013 Articles

October 3, 2013

I expect that by the time this publishes, the Bump will have arrived 🙂 Here are some great fitness/health-related articles I’ve gathered over the month, as well as a few links some might find interest in browsing (store-related websites I happened to find and/or hear about from others). I hope your October begins with fresh, crisp autumn air, delicious apples, the thrill of the pumpkin harvest, and yummy foods to be found at the farmer’s market.

 

Thinner Winner Contest (a stupendous idea for gyms, studios, and communities!)

Which is Stronger, Habit or Willpower?

Compassion and Kindness Can Increase with Meditation Training

Transcendental Meditation Is Effective for Hypertension

“Ocean Breathing” Heals Emotional Pain

The 8-Minute Healthy Eating Plan

Overeating, Indulgence Tied to Positive Emotion

Super-short Exercise Bouts Offer Big Weight-loss Benefits

Skinny Jeans Workout (video)

Supercharged Plank Moves

Is Tabata All It’s Cracked Up to Be?

Medicine Ball Moves for the Core

4 Full-body Medicine Ball Exercises

Yoga Straps for Scapular Strength

Muscle Force Generation Q&A (anatomy discussion article)

Younger than 55? Curb Coffee Intake

Skip the Juice, Eat Whole Fruits to Avoid Type II Diabetes

Juiced: Should Your Clients Be Drinking More of Their Nutrients?

5 Reasons to Love Carrot Juice

Mindful Eating for Physical Activity and Athletes

Pre- and Post-workout Snacks for Different Workout Durations

Reusable Sandwich Bags (blog review)

Bamboobies (a nursing pad company seeking to make products that are sustainable, reusable, and user-friendly; often have great giveaways for breastfeeding mothers)

Motherlove (a highly-recommended brand for parents seeking organic, safe and sustainable methods for encouraging breastfeeding and tackling the ails of infancy; an herbal company–as always, check with a physician before use)

Mountain Rose Herbs (a website I recently re-stumbled upon through a blog post which carries an assortment of things, from natural herbs and spices to essential oils and carrier oils, from clays to glass jars; which strives to maintain fair-trade, organic quality products)

NaturOli (Soap nuts are a new concept to me, one I’m hoping to learn more about and blog about in the future; a good place to start researching for those interested in an alternative, environmentally-friendly way to wash clothes…and many other things besides; here is the home site)

 

PLEASE NOTE: I do not advertise for any specific company. I merely point out ones that have caught my interest. Please always do your own research before purchasing products, and consult family practitioners whenever possible before starting any alternative health regimen.