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Whole Gourmet Natural Cooking

Alison Anton's Natural Cooking Blog offers healthy recipes, inspirational food articles and culinary advice for the natural chef, and features dessert recipes from her upcoming cookbook, Desserts for Every Body.

Monday, January 21, 2008

VIDEO! Smoked Salmon

Smoked Salmon Video

Recipe: Smoked Wild Salmon on the Stove-Top Smoker
Yield: 2-4 servings

This reci
pe will be featured in the March issue of Natural Solutions Magazine (formerly Alternative Medicine). Check out my article all about sustainable seafood, wild vs. farmed fish, health benefits and how to be a conscious seafood consumer. You can find the magazine on newsstands in natural foods stores nation-wide!

What fish lover doesn't love smoked salmon? Make it at home with a smoker that fits right on top of the stove. It can be purchased online for under $40. Choose wild Alaskan salmon for health and sustainability.

1 tablespoon each dried dill and parsley
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 (1 pound) wild Alaskan salmon fillet, 3/4-inch thick
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced

1. Follow brand instructions for preparing the smoker and smoking chips.

2. Mix herbs, salt, pepper and garlic powder in a small dish. Rub spices onto the fillet. Place lemon slices on top of the fish, overlapping them slightly for a decorative effect.

3. Place fillet on the rack and close the lid. Heat burner to medium. Place the smoker on the burner and cook 25 minutes, until the fish flakes open with the touch of a fork. The tender lemon slices can be eaten along with the fish.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Kid's Health -- The Rotating Breakfast

One of the biggest dietary problems I see for kids (and adults) in the modern world is the addiction to refined breakfasts: boxed cereal, pancakes, rolled oats, toast, even "health bars". Yes... they're easy, they're quick, there's no clean up and they give a quick boost in energy. But what about an hour or two later? How are the kids doing in math class when the quick energy drops hard?

Kids need carbs, there's no doubt about that. My concern is that kids are getting too much refined carbohydrate in the morning and not enough long-sustaining energy foods like protein and good fats.

There's also a concern for developing food allergies and intolerances. Most kids are eating the same foods everyday for breakfast -- usually refined wheat products. Small bodies aren't quite ready to tolerate the same foods each and every day, especially allergy-triggering foods like wheat, milk and sugar. It's fine to serve boxed cereal or pancakes one or two times a week; the problems arise when the same foods are consumed every day.

The best way to address both these issues is with a rotating morning diet. This way, kids are getting a variety of foods each morning throughout the week. Here's an example:

Monday - Turkey sausage or scrambled eggs and hashed browns
Tuesday - 5-Grain Maple Mush
Wednesday - Shrek Shake
Thursday - Meat, veggie or miso soup with brown rice
Friday - Fresh Fruit with Almond Butter Cream
Saturday - Low sugar boxed cereal (mixed with nut butter for protein and fat)
Sunday - Whole wheat pancakes with flaxseed

Try the rotating breakfast for a few weeks and ask the kids how they are doing in their morning classes. Some kids will need more carbohydrate in the morning, others will fair better with more protein and fat. If you find it's too hard to rotate foods every morning, start with rotating the foods every four days.

The easiest breakfasts are yesterday's left-overs: Hearty soups with grains; hamburgers, turkey or soy patties scrambled with eggs and veggies; casseroles and even steamed vegetables from dinner last night make super weekday breakfasts in a hurry. It's only cultural conditioning that says we need to have sweet foods in the morning.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

For Your Inflammation -- Anti-Inflammatory Recipes

If you suffer from lupus, Chrone's Disease, MS or any chronic inflammatory disease, you're already acutely aware of how inflammation can cause long term damage to the body. But Inflammation is a natural process that affects everyone: It’s the body’s first and foremost defense against infection, injuries and toxicity. Without it, we’re doomed. It only becomes a problem when the body’s inflammatory “switch” gets jammed into a chronic state. The immune system is on heightened alert 24/7.

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Inflammation may be experienced externally as a rash, swelling or pain, but in more chronic cases, inflammation inside the body can cause long-term damage to almost any organ or organ system, including the heart, kidneys, lungs and liver. This is a major issue for all patients with autoimmune and chronic inflammatory diseases, and is a growing concern for everyone eating the modern, industrialized diet.

The increased need for fast, convenient food has led us to highly refined products that have an unfortunate lack of vital nutrients. These foods are usually high in one or all of the following: saturated and trans-fats, refined sugars, starches, commercial meats and artificial sweeteners. These are pro-inflammatory foods, or foods that lead to inflammation in the body.

With the increased consumption of packaged foods comes the so-called “diseases of civilization”, a slough of inflammatory diseases on the rise in industrialized countries. Industrialized, pro-inflammatory foods should be significantly reduced, or in many cases, eliminated from the diet altogether. The major culprits again are trans-fats, refined sugars, commercial meats and artificial sweeteners.

Other Pro-Inflammatory Foods

Some foods have naturally occurring inflammatory properties. These foods are generally not so harmful, and may even have a variety of nutritional benefits when eaten in moderation; but moderation seems to be a problem for most Americans. The foods listed below are generally over-consumed, which can lead to an imbalanced ratio of nutrients in the body.

Fatty Meats, Dairy Products and Eggs — These foods contain high amounts of arachidonic acid, an omega-6 fat that is considered a potential mediator for inflammation (Science, 1980). While some arachidonic acid is essential for health, too much in the diet may make inflammation worse. Organic, grass-fed meats tend to be leaner than feedlot meats and make better choices for those on an omnivore diet.

Omega-6 Fatty Acids — Omega-6 fats help trigger the normal immune function of inflammation. These fats are not “bad” fats, but they are over-consumed in comparison to the omega-3s that counterbalance the inflammatory process. Omega-6 fats are found in standard vegetable oils like corn, peanut and safflower oil. Look for these oils in bottled dressings, crackers, chips, “health bars”, granola and toasted nuts.

Nightshades — Vegetables in the nightshade family contain a chemical called solanine, which for some people makes pain from inflammation worse. While there isn't any formal research backing this claim, they can be taken out of the diet for 1-2 weeks to see if any symptoms of inflammation improve.

Foods That Heal

Fortunately, nature has its antidote: foods that keep inflammation in check. Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into the daily diet, preferably at each meal, will begin to straighten out the delicate balance in the body.


Poached Salmon
Simple ingredients make a simple, elegant dish in only 5 minutes. Quick poaching ensures that the good fats and flavors stay intact while cooking...

Red Cabbage and Apple Slaw with Flax Dressing
With red cabbage, apples, scallions, walnuts and flax, this recipe is perfectly designed to soothe inflammation and boost immunity...

Omega-3 Fatty Acids — These good fats decrease inflammation by balancing out the inflammatory effects from too much omega-6 fats in the American diet. According to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, tests indicate that “a diet rich in omega-3s have significant benefit for inflammatory diseases, including decreased disease activity and a lowered use of anti-inflammatory drugs” (JACN 21:6, 2002). High omega-3 foods include: cold water oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines; flaxseeds; walnuts; pumpkin seeds; and leafy green vegetables.

Flavenoids — These naturally occurring, plant-based phytochemicals have been proven to inhibit certain enzymes that produce inflammation in the body (, 2004). Foods particularly rich in anti-inflammatory flavenoids are olive oil, apples, onions, berries, hot peppers and soybeans.

Other lifestyle factors play an important role for keeping inflammation at bay. Dr. Andrew Weil, an avid believer that diet influences inflammation, also recommends experimentation with different types of mind/body treatments. From his web site ( he states that autoimmune and inflammatory diseases “tend to flare up and subside in response to emotional ups and downs”. A daily practice in meditation, yoga, chi gung, guided imagery or other exercises that relax and de-stress the body/mind system can be an integral element in managing the inflammatory process.

1. Kuehl, FA Jr. et al. (1980) “Prostaglandins, arachidonic acid, and inflammation”. Science, 210:4473, 978-984.
2. Simopoulos, Artemis P. (2002) “Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Inflammation and Autoimmune Diseases”. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 21;6, 495-505.
3. Anti-inflammatory plant flavonoids and cellular action mechanisms. PubMed, 2004.
4. Weil, Andrew, October 20, 2005.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Turnips and Turnip Recipes

Do you turnup your nose at a turnip? Turnips usually get passed by at the produce counter, mainly out of ignorance with what to do with them. Somewhere between a potato and a radish, turnips have a root-like flavor with a spicy, crisp bite at the end.

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As a cruciferous vegetable in the cabbage family, turnips are highly nutritious. All cruciferous veggies are known to ward off cancer, but turnips have an exceptionally high amount of the cancer-fighting nutrient called glucosinolates. From a Chinese medicinal view, turnips are much like radishes in that they aid digestion by cooling and soothing inflammation and phlegm. The mustard-like greens supply many times the nutrient content of the root.

So what do you do with them?

From a culinary perspective, turnips can go a couple different directions: toward a potato or toward a radish. By far, the most common turnip recipes are mashed turnips (or a combination of turnips and potatoes) or turnip gratin. They are also cooked up into soups like potatoes or other root vegetables.

Cream of Turnip Soup
Crisp-tender turnips, onions and warming spices are pureed into a mild yet hearty creamed soup...

Braised Turnips with Browned Onions and Hazelnuts
Seasonal turnips are cooked in a simple, fragrant braising liquid and tossed with a saute of hazelnuts and onions...

Going in the radish direction, turnips can be grated or diced and tossed into salads or slaws. Unlike potatoes, grated turnips last several days in the refrigerator without oxidizing. They can also be sauteed, braised or stir-fried with other vegetables and grains.

Choose small turnips, no more than three inches in diameter; they will be sweeter and crisper. Turnips should be hard to the touch. Most farmers' markets offer turnip greens with their roots attached. The greens should be removed from the root and stored separately. The separated greens should last 3-4 days in the refrigerator.