Portland, Oregon is probably the best place in the USA to track down
new ( to me ) health fads and foods. Farm to table, Farmer’s markets, vegan, non gmo, recyclable, low environmental impact are key words to add to your vocabulary when you live here.
Of course there is more to Portland than just healthy alternative foods (yes, this is the original food truck land ) and James Beard was born here but that’s for another blog.
Here are some of the healthy things I have tried or spotted this week.
I thought Hemp milk was a version of Indian bhaang /thandai but it is hemp milk made out of the hemp seeds not leaves and contains no marijuana. (Marijuana is legal now in Portland, Oregon where I am writing this blog from so marijuana milk would be legal I suppose). Hemp is a known ingredient for its oil and emollience. Omega 3, vitamins Aand E, magnesium and amino acids make it a good health food. Beauty brands have been aware of the goodness of hemp oil – Body Shop’s Hemp Hand protector is a cult hand cream. You can also chew on hemp seeds or add them to your salads.
I tried it and found the taste a little nutty, a little oily and overlaid with the taste of brown rice syrup, which is the chief sweetener. I much prefer the delicious taste of almond milk (much fattier though). Healthy non-milks continue to be a rage in the US and hemp milk follows coconut milk, hazelnut milk, almond milk, soymilk, oat milk, rice milk and all the other milks that are replacing cow’s milk. Note : if you are buying healthy non-lactose milks please do buy unsweetened versions .
There are two points of view on Bee Pollen. In the alternative world it is touted as a wonder food, nutrient dense and rich. The other world of modern medicine warns us about allergens, allergic reactions, and contraindications for people on blood thinners and pregnant women. Bee pollen is concentrated pollen that bees store to feed their young. It is from flowers not from bees in the literal sense. It contains upto forty percent protein and is considered a complete food with all the essential nutrients humans need. Interestingly I read that bee pollen is one of the few things that cannot be synthesized or replicated in the lab. This could be one reason that modern medicine and big pharma does not support it. Should you try it start with a v little bit and move gradually unto a teaspoon or tablespoon. Can be sprinkled in salads, over muesli or eaten by itself. Livestrong and Dr Oz have some good advice on how to eat bee pollen .
I can’t write anything about ancient grains without recommending you read Vandana Shiva’s book Bhoole Bisre Anaaj – Forgotten grains and seeds of India. Ancient grains are at chefs table and at health food stores in equal measure. I remember Chef Alex of Mumbai’s The Table telling me how ancient grains were the big thing in the food world some years ago. This is a good mix of ancient wheat, ragi, maize -it is delicious mix so I am eating this with a sense of goodness. Re Ancient grains –these are old grains recorded from historic times and not damaged with GMO, cross breeding or hybridization. They are cultivated in the old way and some have recorded mentions in the Bible or Koran or the Vedas. Strains of wheat like spelt, khorasan, farro, millets like raagi and teff, amaranth or rajgira, pseudo cereals like quinoa are all ancient grains.
India has a rich variety- we don’t call them ancient grains as they are still around and still eaten regularly. Each time you read about ancient grains, India and Africa come up as the places where most are available. I am told that when the West made quinoa fashionable it became too expensive for ordinary Bolivans (quinoa originally comes from Bolivia) for whom it was a staple diet for thousand years. Lets hope that doesn’t happen to Ragi and Varagu .Times of India had an article Grain Drain that talks of this http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Grain-drain-Cheapest-cereals-in-India-are-the-most-expensive-ones-in-US/articleshow/22067901.cms
And Padhu’s Kitchen blog gives me this informative piece on all our millets- samai, thinai, varagu and many more which I had not heard of http://www.padhuskitchen.com/2013/08/how-to-cook-millets-varagu-arisi-saamai.html
I have written in depth about kefir but I liked Nancy’s Organic kefir. Much creamier than the one I have in Mumbai but less fermented. Check out the gazillions of good bacteria I am ingesting ☺