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Posts tagged ‘natural food’

Looking for wild things in the wild

Before I fly home, I definitely had to make some mushroom picking trips.

It’s something I miss a lot in Canada and which is plenty in Latvia.

It’s a land which has maintained its ecological integrity. Forests are quite wild and frequently not that much walked or travelled, although, large number of people would enjoy them, pick wild berries and mushrooms there. These natural forests are extra clean compared to highly developed countries.

It might sound like a walk in the park, but it actually isn’t. It’s not that easy to get over the fallen tree trunks and branches, bushes, thick young firs, aspens, birches and bushes. There is no path usually and one goes led by intuition or guess since wild mushrooms do not grow everywhere, but they are friendly neighbors of some particular tree and moss combination, as well as they like some grasses and dislike or never grow near others. King boletes love outskirts of the forest and can be also found near old roads. The orange-capped boletes grow rather in long grasses, but every forest is different and one has to figure out where they might be hiding.

It is a sporting activity that carries a lot of excitement, hence, finding a bunch of king boletes makes one happy and also proud.

The rainfalls and pretty warm weather this September definitely helped mushrooms grow fast and almost in every forest.

I regret I do not know such places in Ontario, but one should most likely drive for many hours in order to find a clean place where wild mushrooms love growing. It was just slightly out-of-town in Latvia, but we made lots of stops. Every ditch that separates road from the forest was full of water, and getting in the forest was a challenge.

I personally enjoy to a huge extent picking mushrooms, I like eating them, as well, but still: nothing compares to overcoming all obstacles and getting a full basket of nice and valuable mushrooms. King boletes belong to the most nutritious wild mushrooms and they are pride of everybody who takes a walk in the forest. It is believed they help conquering even cancer, not to mention that their protein content can exceed the amount of proteins in meat. Dried king boletes contain more protein than meat.

It is a wonderful food and can be prepared in very many ways: Latvians make mushroom sauces, soups of mushrooms; we dehydrate and dry them and use afterwards either as powder or spice; dried mushrooms can be added to broth, soup and any other dish. We pickle them and prepare delicious salads. Wild mushrooms can be prepared with salt for winter and then eaten any way one likes. They go into pies, and it is not only a snack, but a very delicious main course on many Latvian dinner tables.

Enjoy the pictures! Well, some picture-taking was very tricky since I had the basket on one arm, it was heavy, not less than 4 kg, I balanced myself on some small dry patch and here and there it was almost impossible to place the phone so that it would take a picture.

Golden chanterelle

The poisonous beauties: fly agarics or fly amanitas

The bright red poisonous mushrooms frequently signal that king boletes are not far

Small king bolete getting out of moss after rain

To get the close-up, I pushed moss down, a bit  larger king bolete

Orange cap aspen boletes, so lovely!

This family of orange cap aspen boletes was hiding in long grasses

Full basket of orange cap and king boletes

Absolutely delicious and extraordinary beautiful

They were so firm and so fresh

I took like 100 pictures, I couldn’t resist because I rarely have such an opportunity

I will catch up with my blog friends once I am back home. My trip will take some time and, unfortunately, there is large time zone difference, and that will require adjustment from my side.

 

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Are you wasting your money for supplements and vitamins without experiencing any benefits?

The multibillion industry of non-prescription food supplements and vitamins is most likely operating on assumptions. How so?

Absence of controlled clinical testing

Prescription drug has to undergo many stages of clinical trials: to obtain statistically significant trial results there has to be a sufficient research population, control groups, dose safety and tolerance testing and also estimates of benefits versus harm. That is why placement on the market of a prescription drug might take quite many years. When studies in animals have proven potentially safe use for humans, healthy volunteers will try the drug before it is assigned to people with a particular condition or disease. First phases are blinded and double-blinded when neither treating doctor, nor patient knows what they are receiving placebo or the active substance, and the effects of study drug are compared to placebo. Placebo is a drug that looks like the active treatment drug, but has no active substance. That allows excluding false improvement cases and accessing the success rate. Next phases (assuming that the drug has gotten so far) will compare doses or combination treatments. There can be both: dose safety testing and testing in combination. Only when the obtained results from controlled studies (controlled means the indicators and values are taken at baseline and periodically throughout the clinical trial and at the end of it and all results are appropriately documented and patients are monitored) can reveal significant benefit versus risk ratio, as well as statistically significant improvement, the drug would be approved for marketing and selling it.

That’s not the case with supplements: they are left on conscience of producer and manufactured at discretion of a company. Clinical testing and clinically proven in such cases might mean a small population with not properly recorded baseline indicators and improper monitoring throughout the testing period. The outcome of a study always depends on study subjects; that’s why there are meticulously elaborated inclusion and exclusion criteria in real clinical studies. Many supplements usually bypass the multi-patient testing since it is time-; labor- and cost-consuming.

As soon as the first synthetic vitamins were created and as soon as we realized the role and importance of these organic nutrients, it was assumed: there were no risks, but only benefits with their consumption for everybody.

The global market for complexes of vitamin compounds, minerals, herbs with vitamin compounds, enzymes, synthetic proteins and similar substances has become an uncontrollable, huge profits gaining monster. Can you trust a clinical testing that is carried out and paid for by the manufacturing company? That is a very doubtful testing for results because we are talking about billions of dollars in potential profits.

What is the danger?

Unlike any advertisement tells, it is by far not as safe as we believe to take supplements and vitamins, especially in the absence of proof of authenticity (buying online or from not certified provider). Virtually, anybody can manufacture non-prescription supplements because the regulations and standards for this type of products are not sufficiently regulated and controlled. The medical authorities become aware of harmful substance or risks associated with the use of some product ONLY after they receive reports about serious side-effects, illnesses caused by these products or even lethal cases. Do you really want to be the healthy volunteer who goes for it?

Supplementation is important for the treatment of certain health problems, especially clinically significant deficiencies that cause chain reactions in the body by inhibiting some processes; however, there is little evidence of nutritional benefit when used by otherwise healthy people.

The supplement market assumes we are all the same

Overdose or unnecessary consumption of such products can result in side effects. What global market of vitamins and other supplements does not take into account is the individual condition of a person, individual medical history, climate where one resides, nutrition or malnutrition history, specific genetic inheritance and so on, specific conditions and so on. We differ in any aspect: patient A could be absorbing some supplement very well, patient B experiences neither improvement, nor worsening with it, and patient C has side effects; and these differences will be due to their personal metabolism and thousands of other factors. Therefore, it is WRONG to assume that any supplement or vitamin will make you healthier. Vitamin A and E supplements do not only provide any health benefits for generally healthy individuals, but they may increase serious health risks. The wide-spread opinion that omega-3 supplements help maintaining heart health and overall health is somewhat doubtful, too; at least clinical trial (6 years long, in more than 12,000 patients) showed no efficacy as compared to placebo group. We also have to remember that under influence of health maintaining goals, lots of food products have added all kinds of synthetic supplements and vitamins, especially vitamin D and calcium.

Dangerous vitamins and supplements

The safest way to find out our body’s necessities

We need to know and we need to be aware on how our body works, what we are short of and what we have enough. The assumption that life time long consumption of supplements will make us disease-free and increase the life expectancy is not based on strong clinical proofs. It is based on assumption that more is better. We are becoming more knowledgeable thanks to quick lab tests, but once again: the body and mind love BALANCE. Not more, not less, but as much as needed. We receive this in a dose that is suitable for us personally when we consume balanced, nutrient-rich, fresh and organic food. The problem with organic food can be also a misleading labeling, well, use your common sense.

The only way to find out where we are standing is to ask your doctor for tests. If there is a clinically significant deficiency, you might need completely different form of this particular substance, not the over-the-counter version. Repeated testing will show whether you are absorbing any of this supplement or not. There are cases when people take iron supplements for prevention of anemia, but these supplements do not work at all because body does not recognize them in a form they are provided, and that is the main issue with all synthetically produced supplements and vitamins: it is not always that we will be making any use of them, even in case when no harm happens.

Are you obsessed with health issues?

If you are, you should be aware that consumption of supplements won’t have any benefits if you have a good health already. Consumption of nutrient-rich food will provide you with everything in a balanced and proper way. Whenever possible, we have to use the most natural, nothing added and nothing removed products.

wasting-money-for-supplements

I will continue with clinical trials, dose-dependent harms or benefits and explain why some supplements do not work as expected or do not work for every person in the next article.

The patient, calming and adorable garden neighbor cucumber: love it, eat it, pickle it!

Cucumbers are in the season. At least in my backyard garden, I can enjoy plenty of small pickling cucumbers and also long English type of cucumbers.

Cucumber recipes

There are so many reasons to fall in love with this guy: preparation of salad or cucumber juice takes practically no time. Adding cucumber to salads and cold soups, gives them so much more freshness and flavor. I come originally from Latvia, which is a place where everybody has a garden or at least some balcony or backyard plants. Cucumber time in Latvia is associated with snacking on quick pickles, one hour pickles and tonnes of fresh garden salads.

Vegetables in the garden: cucumbers

My artistic side cannot stop adoring the shape of leaves, blooms and vegetables, they are so attractive! I have painted and drawn them numerous times.

I am not sure whether the grocery store vegetables will do the same because of shipping and storage, but fresh ones from the garden can do a lot to improve our health. I personally simply love the flavor, the look and the taste of these easy to grow vegetables. All they need is watering fairly rich soil and some string to travel up.

Cucumbers: fresh vegetables

I can tell from my own experience: having about one cucumber with dill and green onions a day stabilized my very moody blood glucose levels. It became so stable that I was really surprised, I’m not sure what I will do in winter, but it works excellently for now, especially because I love eating them.

I will briefly mention that cucumbers:

refresh your breath, cure gums, destroy bad bacteria in the mouth

facilitate digestion and metabolism, kill bad bacteria in the gut, cure constipation

carry out toxins present in the body due to very specific substances they contain

stabilize blood glucose, especially with dill

stabilize blood pressure, especially with dill, because dill is a very well known blood pressure reducing herb

using for longer term, prevents cancers due to lariciresinol, pinoresinol, and secoisolariciresinol that cucumbers contain

reduce bad cholesterol due to sterols they contain

flavor will calm you and put in a better mood, this is scientifically tested and found to be working

cucumbers are an ideal product for weight loss: very few calories and lots of good stuff!

refresh skin, decrease swelling under eyes

cure sunburnt skin

help with hangover.

We could continue and continue.

Cucumbers are inexpensive and when in season: always available from farmers market and in our own garden.

So, I picked some along with plenty of dills and blossoming dill and dill stems:

Dill: the wonderful herb

For inspiration some Latvian recipes from series: I have very little time and money

cucumber recipes ingredients

5 minute cucumber salad

Cut cucumber in medium thin slices. Small cucumbers and any cucumbers must be pealed (if needed, because sometimes they have thick skin) always from the light end; this prevents from getting the whole vegetable bitter. In dry weather, small cucumbers can become bitter.

Chop generously fresh dill and green onion.

Dress with either: sour cream plus small bit of neutral mild vinegar; mix of mayonnaise and whipping cream, like I do; olive oil plus mild vinegar. Add salt and pepper. Salt is added on cucumbers directly before serving, otherwise they release too much juice and water.

Cucumber salad recipe

Dill goes so well with cucumber and has similar properties: regulates blood pressure and blood glucose levels

1 hour quick pickles

Choose a plastic or glass dish with tight lid.

Combine 2 teaspoons honey or sugar; 1.5 table spoons vinegar; 0.5 teaspoons salt, freshly ground pepper, 2-3 cloves of garlic, cut in smaller pieces on 1 long cucumber or 2 small ones, mix

Cut cucumber in slices, they don’t need to be very thin, add plenty of chopped dill and finely chopped green onion. Close with lid. Shake well for about 30 seconds. Leave in room temperature for about 20 minutes, place in fridge until the meal time. 20 minutes is already enough. Serve.

1 hour pickles

Next day mild pickles

Pour water in a pot. Amount depends on how many jars you make.

On 1 litre water: 2 table spoons kosher salt; 2 table spoons sugar

Bring to boil. Meanwhile wash small pickling cucumbers. Cut off both ends. Stuff in a jar blossoming dill/dill with stems, 2-3 cloves of garlic per 1 l jar; add some whole pepper, place cucumbers tightly. Cherry and black currant leaves go well with it. Use just 1-2 on each jar. Pour over hot water. If desired, add some spoon of vinegar, but that is not necessary if you don’t like vinegar. Put on lid, leave in room temperature for quicker results, place in fridge to use after 2 days.

Next day ready pickles

When left in room temperature, these pickles are ready after 12-15 hours, sometimes even faster. The smaller vegetables, the faster they get pickled. They absorb neither much sugar, nor salt. If you add very little, there won’t have any decent taste. We have very many variations of this type of cucumber recipes in Latvia, I just described the absolutely simplest and quickest.

Cucumber recipes

I love all of these, and I put new quick pickles in some jar every second day. After I’m done with quick pickles, I will put in some cucumbers for winter. Winter pickling recipe is obviously different.

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