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Acid and Alkaline Diet

Spring is here, the weather is warmer and probably the most asked question I get is, “How can I lose weight?” or “Which diet works?” When thinking about losing weight, it’s not always the decreased number on the scale that we are looking for. It is the way it makes us feel: the increased energy, the lithe movements, how our clothes fit and our skin feels. It is not simply the weight but the health too! With so many diets in the media now, how do you know which is the best choice for you?

Well, “diets” never work because they eventually end and we go back to eating the same bad food choice s. When considering weight, health and all those good feelings, a “lifestyle change” is most important. These choices can really vary too, so in my next few articles I will walk you through some interesting diet choices that you may have never thought of.

Acid and Alkaline Balance Diet.  The goal of this diet is to help your body maintain a healthy pH level for all organs and systems to function optimally. This is an interesting theory that I have struggled to understand for years. Many Acid/Alkaline advocates believe that this diet will cure all kinds of diseases. I’m a little more skeptical on that part. We are too complex of a system for it to be that simple. It is imperative, however, that our body maintain its pH; otherwise, cells die…we die. So how could a diet help when our body has so many checks and balances to stabilize pH on its own? Well, some of those checks and balances are dependent on minerals. Where do we get minerals? Our bones, muscles, teeth or our food. If our food isn’t balanced then our body steals what it needs from other areas (bones, muscles and teeth) to correct the imbalance in the blood. So you can see, our health can really decline if our body has to work hard to compensate for our poor food choices.

All foods have acid and alkaline forming properties. Again, it is the balance within that food or meal that matters. Foods that cause an overly acidic condition are foods high in animal fats, animal proteins, sugar and refined grains like white flour products and white rice. Artificial chemicals, flavorings and additives can also create an acidic condition. Foods that increase an alkaline condition are fruits, vegetables and organic whole or sprouted grains. This can be confused with healthy foods that are acidic themselves. Citrus, kiwi and bell peppers contain acids and can be irritating to an ulcer but they create an alkaline condition when absorbed by the body because of other beneficial nutrients. Coffee, alcohol and sugar…well, they are acidic to an ulcer and your body.

Generally, alkaline-forming foods should make up at least 75% of our diet to maintain optimal health. There are many lists available in books and on the internet if you are interested in a further look. My thoughts: alkaline foods are healthy choices, high in nutrients and low in calories, and are non-inflammatory foods. It may be worth a try.

Stay tuned for the next article on the Raw Foods Diet. 

by Rebecca Dirks, N.D.
Associate Physician, NW Center for Optimal Health
Marysville, 360-651-9355
Producer & Co-Host, Healthy Living, KSER FM 90.7

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Asparagus Salad

Serves 2-3

12 spears of thick asparagus, sliced into 1/4-inch thick coins
5 – 6 broccolini (or broccoli) florets, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Big pinch of salt
1 small shallot, chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted, and coarsely chopped
7 baby Chioggia beets or radishes, washed trimmed and very thinly sliced
Zest of one lemon
A bit of shaved parmesan

Wash the asparagus and broccolini well and set aside. Make the dressing by whisking together the lemon juice, salt, shallot and olive oil. Stir in the pine nuts. Set aside.

To cook the asparagus, place a splash of olive oil along with a couple pinches of salt in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot add the asparagus and broccolini. Toss well and cover the skillet with a lid. Cook for one minute. Stir again, taste a piece, and cover again for another minute – but only if needed. You don’t want to overcook the vegetables here, they should be bright and with a bit of bite to them. When the vegetables are cooked, remove them from the heat and stir in the radishes and lemon zest. Taste, add a bit of salt if needed. Toss with 1/3 of the pine nut dressing, adding more as needed – as I mention up above, you might have a bit extra.

Turn everything out onto a platter and finish with some shaved Parmesan.

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Fresh Pasta with Garlic Greens

Serves 3           

1 pound fresh pasta, (preferably brown rice pasta)
2 tablespoons butter
4-5 stalks garlic greens, finely sliced
Salt (to taste)
Black pepper, freshly ground (to taste)
Parmigiano reggiano cheese, grated (to taste)

Boil water for the pasta.
Melt butter in a sauté pan, being careful not to let it brown, and add the green garlic.
Sauté on medium to medium-low heat until the green garlic has softened (but don’t let it brown). Remove from heat.
Cook the pasta.
When the pasta is cooked, drain it (reserve cooking liquid), and set pasta aside.
Return the sauté pan to the range, set to medium to medium-high. When the butter starts to bubble, add about 1/4 cup of the water the pasta cooked in and whisk until the butter and water forms an emulsion. Keep whisking while the butter/water reduces slightly (around a minute).
Add pasta to the pan and toss, adding more water if too dry, and seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
Plate and serve the pasta with grated parmigiano reggiano on top.

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Know Your Farmer

As a farmer, I need to be a full-time lobbyist for common sense. The USDA and folks in Washington D.C. can create a lot of extra work for us small farmers! One seemingly little law or rule change can seriously impact our lives, farms, and future.  Currently, there is one such proposed bill going through the US Senate and also a rule change being considered for beef cattle and grazing with the USDA.

I’ll admit that I barely have enough time to run the farm, let alone the country! I rely upon a few key groups to highlight the big concerns that require a little more attention. I pay attention to the Cornucopia Institute and American Farmland Trust as my primary sources of information when it comes to healthy food and farmland preservation.

While I am busy raising food, the folks in Washington D.C. are busy making life a little more interesting. Currently, there is a food safety bill going through the US Senate that will do nothing, in my opinion, to improve food safety, but it will certainly be easier for the large food processors and large farms to comply with. Why do most laws seem to benefit the large mutinational corporations?

The same goes for the USDA. Currently, the USDA is considering allowing certified organic beef cows an exemption that allows them to be raised for up to 120 days in a feedlot. This is a rule that is purely being considered to make it easier for feedlot owners to be able to label their animals as certified organic. As a farmer who is concerned for the animal’s welfare and the environment, the feedlot is the last place I would send my animals! (Granted, there are seasons when animals need to be confined, like during heavy rain storms and the wetter months, to protect the grass and grazing pastures during their vulnerable stage.) But this loophole is not designed to protect the environment, it is so the feedlot owners can “finish” the beef before harvesting them in a conventional way and still get the benefit of using the organic label.

I am firmly committed to the “Know your Farmer, Know your Doctor, Know your Mechanic” concept.  The more people with whom we have relationships, the more tangible and authentic the service and/or products will be! This country is too big to expect Washington D.C. to manage or micromanage everything. Somehow, some way, we the citizens need to have more input, and it needs to be at the local level. 

I have posted these two e-mail alerts I received from the Cornucopia Institute on our Box of Good blog: As a farmer I can respond, but to really affect change I need voters to “chime” in and support local, sustainable farming!  These laws and rule changes affect me as a farmer and my livelihood, but they also affect your health and, potentially,

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Arugula Salad with Parmigiano-Reggiano

This recipe explains how to make a salad that’s on countless Italian restaurant menus. The salad is simple. What makes it so good is the peppery flavor of arugula combined with the nutty, salty flavor of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

3 Tbsp lemon juice
4 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
One bunch arugula, washed and chopped
1/2 head leaf lettuce or romaine, washed and chopped into salad-bite sized pieces
1/3 – 1/2 lb. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated

In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
In a salad bowl, blend together the lettuce and Arugula.
Drizzle the dressing over the lettuce & arugula. Add the grated cheese. Toss lightly and serve.

adapted from recipe by Jennifer Meier
Serves 3

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Asparagus & Leek Frittata

adapted from  Bon Appetit

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1 cup chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only)
1 12-ounce bunch thin asparagus, trimmed, cut on diagonal into 1-inch pieces (about 2 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup garlic greens, chopped
8 large eggs
1 cup diced Fontina or cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat broiler. Melt butter in heavy broilerproof 10-inch-diameter nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and sauteed 4 minutes. Add asparagus and sprinkle lightly with salt, and sauteed until tender, about 6 minutes. Add garlic greens. Whisk eggs, 3/4 cup Fontina or cheddar cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in medium bowl. Add egg mixture to skillet; fold gently to combine. Cook until almost set. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup Fontina or cheddar cheese and Parmesan cheese over. Broil until frittata is puffed and cheese begins to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

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This time of year is filled with such eagerness and new beginnings. The cold, gray winter is fading fast and we welcome the sunny, cool days of spring. With each coming season new joy and excitement emerges.

For me, spring is marked with the planting of seeds. Our windowsills are lined with little pots studded with seeds of carrots, ground cherries, tomatoes, and spring onions. In our “petite” garden patch we’ve already planted sugar snap peas and arugula. Each day, with anticipation, my sons and I check the status of our seedlings and dream of hot sunny summer days playing outside and eating the sweet-as-candy peas from the vine.

My next step in welcoming spring is rhubarb. Its bright red stalks roasted in the oven with a touch of sugar and orange zest make the most decadent compote that tops anything from ice cream to oatmeal. My mouth puckers at its tart bright flavor and I smile at this memorable taste that, to me, screams spring.

The recipe I have for you this week highlights what this season has to offer. A variety of citron green vegetables are stirred into fresh eggs then topped with cheese and broiled until golden brown. A frittata is the perfect weekday dinner. Served with a simple green salad, this dish is a welcoming light meal after a long winter of heavy and hearty foods. “Frittata” is basically just a fancy way of saying omelette (those Italians always know how to fancy things up a bit). A frittata, however, is usually a bit lighter, as the eggs are whipped more than a traditional omelette. The resulting texture is lighter and more fluffy. Nearly any vegetable can be substituted and diced ham, bacon, or turkey can easily be added. I’m sure you too will add the frittata to your weekly meal plan.

What a joy to live in this beautiful green area that produces an abundance of fresh produce. From the slender, sweet stalks of asparagus to the pungent and peppery garlic greens – I welcome it all with open arms and an open mouth.

by Ashley Rodriquez
Chef, food blogger, and full-time mom. You can read more of her writings at