Monday, December 12, 2011

Best Biscotti- Holiday Treat

These are the best biscotti, delicious!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Wet Mix
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup evaporated cane juice (sugar) (Trader Joe's)
1/4 cup date sugar (optional)
2 eggs
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Dry mix
1-1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (Trader Joe's)
1/3 cup rolled oats
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 shelled pistachios (or any nuts)

Mix the olive oil and the sugar. Add the eggs one by one. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Mix the dry ingredients together and add to the wet ingredients. Let stand for 10 minutes, letting the oats soak up moisture.

Spray oil (olive) on a cookie sheet. Form two logs with the dough. Bake 28 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, then slice into 3/4" slices and place slices one side down on the cookie sheet.
 Lower heat to 325 degrees.
Bake 10 minutes. Remove and turn cookies to the other side and bake 10 more minutes. Let cool and store airtight. Great for dipping into tea! Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Moderation in all things

A drink a day linked to healthy aging...

" "strong, consistent evidence" that people who drink in moderation are less likely than nondrinkers or heavy drinkers to experience health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and dementia, says Qi Sun, M.D., the lead author of the study and a nutrition researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health, in Boston."
Another strand of evidence for moderation! Drinking a little alcohol spread over the week, is consistent with less degenerative illnesses. Might it be the inflammation fighting effects of moderate alcohol consumption?  Or the stress- lessening effects of alcohol? Or is it a sign of moderation in other lifestyle choices?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Nuts and tofu found to lower cholesterol

There was an article in the news that said research had found that a diet with nuts and tofu had lowered cholesterol levels, even more than cutting back on saturated fats. It got me thinking that maybe what we eat is more important than what we avoid. Maybe those foods that have been shown to have a protective effect on heart heath, like olive oil and nuts, actually do us more good than eliminating saturated fats, which may not be that harmful. Cholesterol is an important building block in the body, it forms the basis of a lot of the hormones we need for proper functioning. We produce cholesterol naturally, but we also need to get some from our food.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Birth of a book

I've spent the last six weeks working on the second edition of my book, "Explaining Health." I've written two new chapters, one on Chinese Medicine and one on Ayurveda. I had those two chapters edited and incorporated changes. I read over the entire manuscript, looking for any overlooked typos. I considered my publishing options, and out of laziness thought I would go with Createspace again, the way I published last time. But it turned out to be too expensive. The cover price of my book would have to be over $20, approaching $25, and I felt that was just too much to ask people to spend, on what is a slim volume. Packed with useful information, but only 138 small pages. So I lost some sleep over it, and then I decided to look into Lightning Source. The price was less, and they have better distribution. Now my book can be $19.95, a price that was more comfortable to me. Lightning Source is way more complicated, with contracts that have to be printed and signed and returned by mail. I missed signing in one place so the whole thing had to be sent again. And then I uploaded my book in the wrong PDF format and had another sleepless night trying to figure out how to fix it. Turns out I had to save it, one page at a time and figure out what was wrong with each page, when it wouldn't save as PDF/X. Finally, I got the whole manuscript to save. Then I had to upload the cover again, and get my designer to redesign the cover to fit on the cover generator. That took two days and many cell phone conversations. Now we both know how to do it. Now I'm just waiting, fingers crossed that both files pass muster and I can start the printing process. Then the fun begins. I feel like I've been in labor for six weeks, and I've been pushing for the last two days, and my designer has been my midwife, helping me along. I can't wait to hold the little darling in my hands.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Interdepndence Day

We need to think about how much we need one another to thrive. We need a balance of work time and social time and solitude. Time to nurture our creativity. Time to just goof off and have fun. If you can take a walk with friends, then you are getting exercise and sociability together. If you can eat good food together, then you can support each others health in making good choices. Peer pressure can be used for good. Moderation can be the way to go. Drink more water, especially if you drink alcohol. We will all have more fun in the long run, if we don't abuse our bodies! The "pursuit of happiness" does not have to mean overindulgence. Sometimes less is more.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

"It's Karma"

I was checking out of the Hollywood Hills Hotel, when my cell phone rang and it was Kevin from the Bookshop West Portal in San Francisco, saying he'd sold out of my book, Explaining Health: what you need to know to stay healthy. I was very excited and a fellow guest nearby, smoking a cigarette, overheard me and he said, "I have to get your book- I'm an author too and maybe it will help my book sell-it's karma!" I told him I had one copy with me and would sign it for him. He put out the cigarette, and asked me if I'd mind if he took the last blank page out of me book to write his email address on. I didn't mind, and when I told him the book was $20, he said."But I don't have any money!" I was really on the spot, having signed his name in the book, and the last page was torn out. I thought for a moment, and then I said, "I'll give you the book if you consider quitting smoking." He thought it over and then he agreed. I didn't even mention smoking in my book on health, I assumed everyone already knows it's bad for their health. I went one step further, and showed him how I quit smoking many years ago, by folding my arms and keeping them that way for five minutes, until the urge passes. I figured it was good karma.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Allergies happen when your body reacts to foreign substances like pollen or animal dander. You can either choose to avoid exposure or change how your body reacts. It's easier to avoid being around animals than it is to avoid pollen, as it's in the air all around us.

One way that I've found that helps me be less reactive to pollen is through yogic breathing exercises, specifically "alternate nostril breathing" and "breath of fire." With alternate nostril breathing you close off one nostril, using your thumb and forefinger of one hand, exhale through the open nostril and then  inhale, and then switch sides, exhaling first then inhaling. Breathe gently and slowly, trying not to make a sound. Gradually increase the length of the exhale in relation to the inhale. Do it for 3-5 minutes to start, you should feel it become very relaxing. Breathe normally for a few breaths and try the "breath of fire" by inhaling through both nostrils and let the air out in short audible puffs through both nostrils, about 5 times and then exhale any remaining breath and repeat a few times. This is excellent for clearing your sinuses.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Being healthy doesn't mean never getting sick. If you are healthy and you get sick, you are able to bounce back. You are able to mount an appropriate immune response to a virus or bacteria. You are able to listen to your body, and sleep when you are tired, drink water when you are thirsty, and eat foods which truly nourish.

Garlic and ginger are great allies in the fight against germs. Chicken soup does have healing properties. Fresh ginger (about an inch in size) sliced and simmered for twenty minutes in two cups of water, makes a wonderful steam for stuffed sinuses, and then you can add a teaspoon of honey and a spritz of lemon for a soothing tea. Fresh garlic can be minced and spread on toast and covered with honey for a medicinal snack. Hippocrates said,"Let your food be medicine and your medicine be food."

Sunday, May 22, 2011

How old are your cells?

I took a couple of weeks off from this blog to get ready for a couple of presentations. The first one was "Explaining Health: Habits and Longevity," for UCSF Women's Health Today series, streamed live over the internet, and will be shown on in a few weeks. I had hoped to stay present, while I was presenting, even though I was pretty excited. It helped that there weren't many people in the live audience. The potential audience in the weeks and months to come makes me hopeful that some of my information will motivate folks to take better care of themselves.

The other presentation was at The UCSF Integrative Medicine Forum, put on by the students. My lecture was "The Art of Massage Therapy: Pain relief at your fingertips," highlighting the history of massage therapy, showing some self massage points, and instructing the students on neck and shoulder massage on each other. I showed them some proper body mechanics, and commiserated with the dentistry students on how difficult it is for dentists to have good ergonomics.

I went to a lecture by Elissa Epel on Telomeres-Biological aging, lifestyle and well-being. She is doing some fascinating research on telomeres which are the protective ends of the chromosomes (like the little plastic end of your shoelace). The telomeres shorten when the cell divides, and when they get too short the cell dies. Telomere length determines biological age and her findings show that people who have a high degree of perceived stress have shorter telomeres. The good news is that vigorous exercise, omega-3, anti-oxidants and stress management have been shown to increase the length of telomeres, or to keep them the same length. All of the ingredients of a healthy lifestyle, now being proved in the lab.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Anti Rust

Like when you squeeze lemon juice over a cut apple to keep it from turning brown, that is an antioxidant. Fruits and vegetables contain many compounds, which are antioxidants. These molecules bind with "free radicals," which are extra oxygen molecules floating around your blood stream. These free radicals are thought to damage cells, damage their DNA, accelerate aging, are responsible for brown age spots and wrinkles. Populations that eat more fresh fruits and vegetables generally have lower rates of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes. So eat your fruits and veggies!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sedentary+Stress vs Movement+Mindfullness

The cells of your body are constantly responding to your inner environment. Mitochondria are firing up in your muscle cells in response to movement. Your digestive tract is interacting with the foods you eat. Your nervous system is responding to the threats you perceive. Your endocrine system is reacting to the way you feel.
Neurotransmitters, the molecules of emotion, like serotonin are found in the brain, but also in the gut. How you feel affects your physiology. You can affect your physiology by changing how you feel through movement, different food choices, and how you think about things. Constant worry wears down your immune system. You can set aside a time to worry and then stop it. You can pay attention to the content of your thoughts and change them. Instead of worrying, you can picture yourself lying on a on a beautiful warm white sands beach, listening to the sounds of the gentle surf, slowing your breathing, relaxing. Your body will appreciate the change of scenery.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Finding Balance

Imagine yourself poised in a kayak, ready to dip your double tipped oars in the water. If you push too hard on one side, you'll veer off to one side, and you may even capsize. If you pull too hard on the other side, you may head right back to shore. The trick is to dip each oar in lightly, evenly, to stay on an even course. Steering a healthy course in life can be like that, seeking balance, without going overboard. Sometimes we have to indulge, and then use the other oar to get us back on track. We don't want to run aground too soon, we want to enjoy the journey.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The "Hygiene Hypothesis"

I'm taking a mini-med school course at UCSF on the Immune System. The "hygiene hypothesis" is a new way of thinking about allergies and asthma. We are essentially an ecosystem for bacteria, we have more "bacterial" cells, than "human" cells. The right kinds of bacteria can help regulate the immune system. Allergies and asthma are examples of the immune system overreacting to harmless substances like pet dander or pollen.We need to be exposed to a wide range of pathogens as young children to "educate" our immune system. Studies show that children living on farms, close to animals, have a lower rate of allergies and asthma, than children living in inner city environments. Short of living on a farm, growing up with pets, especially dogs (that sleep on your bed!) can lessen the chance of developing allergies or asthma. Another strategy for ingesting beneficial bacteria, is eating yogurt with live cultures or fermented foods like sauerkraut. We want a balanced immune system, one that can fight off dangerous viruses and bacteria, but not so overactive that it produces autoimmune conditions like eczema or allergies.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

And broccoli is good for you, too

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable, part of the same family as cabbage, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts. It has cancer fighting compounds like sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol. Broccoli is also  beneficial for the immune system, with anti-viral and anti-bacterial activity. It's effective against the bacteria that causes stomach ulcers. And it's been shown to help prevent heart disease.

Broccoli is easy to prepare, just steam it for 4-5 minutes. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon, and some ripe avocado for a special treat. Or saute it in some olive oil and garlic. Add a splash of water for the last minute of cooking to steam it slightly. Broccoli sprouts are also good for you.

Populations that eat the most fresh fruits and vegetables have the lowest rates of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Laugh all the way to the bank

Laughter is a great response, when confronted with something that you have no control over. Like being stuck in a traffic jam. Or missing the bus by a minute. Or finding that one dirty sock, after you finished doing laundry. Research is showing the benefits of laughter to your cardiovascular system, it improves blood flow to your heart. And laughing gently massages your abdomen, helping your digestion. And it lifts your mood. Laughter can help us cope, when things get too much. When it rains for days. When the news starts to read like science fiction. It can help you take a deep breath, and carry on.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

River Flow

"...But the river, though it flowed so slowly, had still a sense of movement and it gave one a melancholy feeling of the transitoriness of things. Everything passed, and what trace of its passage remained? It seemed to Kitty that they were all, the human race, like drops of water in that river and they flowed on, each so close to the other, and yet so far apart, a nameless flood to the sea. When all things lasted so short a time and nothing mattered very much, it seemed pitiful that men, attaching an absurd importance to trivial objects, should make themselves and one another so unhappy."
The Painted Veil, W. Somerset Maugham, 1925

We spend a lot of time and mental energy on things that, in the long run, don't matter very much. Instead of worrying about those five lbs, or laugh lines around our eyes, or the silver appearing in our hair, we could focus on being kind to ourselves and one another. Seeing this week, the awesome power of Mother Nature, realizing we are only here for a short time, let's let go of the small petty stuff, and love each other, the best we can.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Thought Menu

An interesting exercise is to pay attention to your thoughts- the running chatter that accompanies you throughout your day. Are most of your thoughts about worrying about the future? Are you judging yourself or others? Are you busy liking and disliking things all day long? Listen to the tone of your self talk- are you berating yourself for not getting enough done, or are you cutting yourself some slack? Or are there times you can just accept what is and find compassion for yourself when you come up short. Are you as kind to yourself as you are to others? Peace of mind is the ultimate goal.

There are times when you have a choice about how you react to events. Say someone takes your parking space in a crowded parking lot. You could get mad, and that would probably be your first reaction. But you could decide to laugh instead. Laughter Yoga is wonderful training in changing the way you respond to frustrations. You can't change the situation, but you can change how you choose to respond.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Just the Minimum

Sometimes, when I have to talk myself into going for a swim, when I'm tired, I'll just tell myself I only have to to do a few laps, I know I'll feel better after I'm done. Then when I find myself in the pool, it's easy to give myself a few bonus laps. Sometimes I lose track of how many laps I've done, after the minimum. So give yourself permission to just do a little bit, to get over the inertia, and then you can reward yourself with more exercise. You know you'll feel better once you are done.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Food for thought

Food is such an essential part of who we are. We literally take things out of our environment and take it inside of ourselves and make it part of our bodies. For most of human history, that meant things found in nature, plants or animals. Less than a hundred years ago, they started to process food, to take the germ and fiber out of wheat, so it could be stored longer and not go bad. They took the corn plant and wrested sugar out of it (high fructose corn syrup). They feed corn to cows, who naturally eat grass, not grain. And they feed cows growth hormones to produce more milk, and antibiotics so the cows don't get sick. There is more e-coli bacteria in their system because they are eating corn and not grass. It's hard to eat meat for a while after seeing "Food, Inc."

We are omnivores, we have the teeth to digest both plants and animals. But so many of the processed foods are full of chemicals, that really, we have no idea of what they are doing to our health. We see as populations around the world start to eat a western fast food diet, they start having western problems like obesity and heart disease and diabetes. Fast food burgers and super sized sugary sodas and potatoes deep fried in trans fat oils are a recipe for health problems.

Real food comes from nature. It grows in healthy soil, comes from a diverse ecosystem. Real food takes some time to prepare and cook. It doesn't usually come out of a box.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Time to move

Inspired by Joel Friedman's talk yesterday, "Blogging 101," at the Bay Area Independent Publisher's Association meeting I feel ready to start a blog of my own.

So much of our health depends on what we do each day, the choices we make, and one of the easy choices we can make is to include some kind of movement everyday. Opt for the long way around, park far away, take the stairs, put on some music and dance! I'm going to take my own advice and go out for a bike ride, while the sun is still shining