03 Apr, 2015

Short Takes

Posted by: lrobinson In: Expose|Short Takes

Kids’ Health Cheated For Kraft’s Profits

Take 12 150x150 Short TakesWhen Kraft’s so-called “Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product” gets a seal of approval from the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, along with permission to use its education program’s Kids Eat Right label on the Kraft Singles packaging, it is time for us all to howl in protest against Congressional sellout of children’s health. Not only because the “Product” contains less than 51% of an inferior dairy concoction that can barely be called ‘cheese’—not to mention it being loaded with antibiotics, hormones and other toxins ingested by factory-raised cows. Not even because the Kraft Food Group successfully lobbied Congress to let it subvert the Truth in Advertising law by sneaking in the word ‘cheese,’ but making it ‘legal’ by calling it Product. Loud protest is warranted, however, against Kraft’s boosting its sagging profits by specifically targeting children in their consumer marketing and sales.

One of a growing number of food activists sounding the alarm about this sellout of kids’ health to food industry profits is Anna Lappé who specializes in, and writes about this issue in Wellness

Happy Update:

Wish this information had come to our attention before we posted the above. In a recent lecture at Columbia University, Dr. Marion Nestle, one of the leading experts in Public Health, announced the happy news that, as a result of some uproar in circles advocating for food safety and healthy nutrition, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics had backed off its support of Kraft Foods. Let’s hope that we’ll hear some loud warnings from the Academy, to parents and schools to delete at least the super-offensive Kraft Singles from their children’s, families’ and school diets.

Take 2 150x150 Short TakesDon’t Be Fooled By New Name

Big Agriculture and the Big Food industry are once again showing their contempt for the intelligence and health of American consumers by responding to sagging sales of products laced with the notorious High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)—now that shoppers have learned to avoid it—by simply changing that ubiquitous sweetener’s name to “Fructose.” Their purpose? To mislead the public in the hope the new name will be mistakenly perceived as that of natural sugar found in fruit, rather than what it actually is: an even more dangerous chemical concoction of the corn syrup they have learned to avoid.

Complicit in the misleading name-change, the FDA signed off on it after the HFCS chemical formula was rejiggered to increase its original fructose levels from its previous range of between 42 and 55 percent, to a whopping 90 percent. . This, in spite of the proven fact that even with its previous lower fructose (i.e., processed sugar) content, HFCS was found by countless reliable researchers to be a major cause of the growing world-wide epidemic of obesity, diabetes and other chronic an fatal diseases. There is no doubt that the higher concentration of this sweetener has an increased ability to wallop the pancreas and heighten vulnerability to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and other illnesses caused by over-consumption of sugars.

It is hard to tell how effective the bamboozling of consumers has been since the HFCS name change, but the food activists have quickly caught on and are working to correct the nutritional misinformation in advertising and the media. But to improve the quality and safety of our food supply and protect our and our families’ health, all of us must keep learning about food safety, read labels more carefully and keep an eye out for food industry shenanigans.

Speaking of which: Has as anyone at the Food and Drug Administration bothered since the name change to compare the health effects of the original product with those of the renamed one? Just asking…

More tips for ‘defensive grocery shopping’:

  • Avoid products that hide “Fructose” among other items on their ingredient lists.
  • Avoid most sodas—including the “sugar-free” ones that contain the toxic Aspartame (sometimes listed under such names as NutraSweet, Equal, etc.), a chemical known to increase the risk of diabetes, cause seizures and other health hazards.
  • Stay away from processed foods—most of which contain corn syrup or some other chemical sweetener.
  • Be well-informed and unrushed when shopping for groceries—which does require time and serious thought about the long-term economical advantages of good nutrition, the mainstay of a healthy lifestyle conducive to mind-body balance, clarity and energy.
  • Read reliable and well-researched print and online publications which do not carry advertisements for unhealthy products or promotions. Check out the free magazines stacked on many health food store counters, websites, online newsletters—such as Wellness Warrior—and both print and online columns focused on fitness, organic foods, healthy cooking and related topics—especially (forgive the plug) the weekly ones written by our famous partner, Catharine L Kaufman, a.k.a. The Kitchen Shrink.



Take 3 150x150 Short Takes

Fertility, Neurological Development Endangered by Endocrine Disrupting Food Additive

According to the non-profit, non-partisan Environmental Working Group (EWG), the much too commonly used endocrine-disrupting chemical Propyl Paraben is a serious threat to health—especially to genetic development related to fertility.

A ubiquitous preservative found in some 49 processed food items, propyl paraben continues to be approved by the FDA, in spite of proliferating proof about its health hazards. Obviously, the FDA needs reminding that its job is to protect public health by keeping the U.S. food supply safe, rather than to cater—or cave in—to the pressure and influence of chemical and processed food industries.

Until our supposed Government protectors and food safety watchdogs do their jobs, however, all of us health-conscious consumers are in charge of protecting ourselves. Fortunately, with access to lots of reliable information on good nutrition (for the mere price of a little time and attention spent on research), most of us are perfectly capable of developing the habit of choosing not only toxin-free, but unprocessed, real foods.

One of the first steps we could take toward that goal is to click on the link below and check out the list of foods known to contain propyl paraben, as well as scientific information about the health hazards the chemical has been associated with:



24 Jan, 2015

Tea For All

Posted by: lrobinson In: Beverages|Sips & Gulps

By Dina Eliash Robinson

Once upon the year 2737 B.C.E., so the legend goes, a windblown leaf from a then unknown, and centuries later identified as. a wild teaScreen Shot 2015 01 24 at 12.09.27 PM 171x300 Tea For All bush, landed in Chinese emperor Shennong’s bowl of hot water, infusing it with a rich color and bitter taste that surprised and pleased the emperor. It remains a mystery whether it was the bitter flavor or a sense of wellbeing after drinking the brew that convinced him of
the plant’s medicinal qualities.

Millennia later, around 760 A.D., written reports were produced, describing the processing of tea leaves as compressing them into dried brick tea or teacake—probably to make them easier to transport, trade, and preserve for long periods. From these ‘bricks,’ portions were shaved or sliced as needed, ground to powder in stone mortars, boiled or simply dissolved in hot water and served as a luxurious beverage to be sipped and savored.

The cultivation, trading and consumption of what came to be known as chá or chai, first became widespread throughout China and, in time, the tea drinking habit crossed borders and expanded into Japan and throughout the British Empire, from the Indian Raj to Europe and the rest of the Commonwealth. Today, both the beverage and its old moniker, chai, are part of the global culture—the name itself having entered various languages, including Russian, Romanian and Stabucks’ international menu boards.

By the 19th century, botanists had identified several different species of tea plants and an entire industry was born, consisting of tasters, healers, blenders (or “product designers”) and promoters who touted each specie’s and blend’s distinctive flavor, nutritional value and medicinal benefits. Tea drinkers became familiar with black, green, white, herbal and blended teas and learned the subtle differences tea plants acquired from the soils, climates and growing methods of their parent locations.

Cultural, Artistic and Social Traditions Lend Importance to Tea Drinking

As clocks began to dictate Teatime throughout the British Empire’s far-flung dominions, it became embedded in every strata of their Engl high tea 300x182 Tea For Alldiverse societies. In today’s United Kingdom especially, that gentle custom provides a breather from daily working class routines with the sharing of a cozy cup’a or spot o’ tea with family and friends; as well as a hospitable gesture to visitors among the middle classes and even as a comforting solitary respite throughout communities around the world.

Tea is a heart- and hands-warmer in Russia and other wintry nations, a widely recognized hydrating agent for colds and flu and Starbucks’ clever marketing of tea as “the other coffee”.” By now, of course tea drinking—to use an Internet expression—has gone viral and became woven into the world’s cultural, social and food-as-art tapestry.
An upscale version of the practice—English High Tea—for example, seems to have evolved as an excuse to display one’s social standing and refinement. Mostly the purview of wealthy homes, stately mansions, embassies and some of the world’s luxury hotels, from London to Hong Kong, New York City (The Plaza in the Big Apple comes to mind) and other venues that cater to the moneyed elite, High Tea is served with special manners and furnishings. The latter include handsome teacarts laden with heirloom china, crystal and silver; assortment of pastries, jam, cucumber sandwiches and fancy teas accompanied by the prerequisite ‘lumps’ of sugar, sweet cream andAfternoon teaBritain 300x204 Tea For All

Surpassing even the theatrics of High Tea is the precise choreography and meditative Zen aesthetics of the Japanese Tea Ceremony.
Classical versions of it have been elevated to artistic performances that combine the graceful gestures of exquisitely bewigged, kimono-clad women handling beautifully crafted bowls, cups, whisks and other implements to the accompaniment of ancient music played on native instruments. Guests are encouraged to admire all aspects of the ritual, including the serving accessories, music, Tea House décor, surrounding gardens (when available) and the savoring of Macha Tea, a traditional brew made with carefully spooned and vigorously whisked moss-green powder—the strong, somewhat bitter taste of which is, admittedly, an acquired one for most Western palates.

Jap tea ceremony 300x206 Tea For All(Like all good things, of course, even tea drinking has some annoying practices—nowhere more than in certain countries’ government offices where services are frequently interrupted by ‘tea breaks’ in full view of grumbling people waiting in lines for the bureaucrats to resume work.)

Teas for Healing and Gourmet Pleasures

As tea cultivation expanded, more strains with special healing and other qualities—from digestive to respiratory, calming and soporific—were discovered and blended. Teas became ‘specialized’ and were touted for their stimulant potencies, botanical flavors and fruit-based vitamin contents. Healers, herbalists, celebrity chefs, home cooks, tea merchants and growers continue to create ‘designer blends’ from various strains, infusing some with berries, fruits, spices, seeds and nuts to obtain medicinal variants, caffeine levels and flavors designed to suit various meals, seasons, personal moods and social occasions.

Today, in the glamorous environments of specialty shops everywhere, consumers are seduced by displays of a mindboggling assortment of teas, blended for gustatory pleasures, mid-day pick-me-ups, bedtime soporifics, sweet-tooth satisfiers, spicy tantalizers and increasingly, for targeted healing properties. There are fruity teas, chai teas, chocolaty teas, mint teas, root teas, dessert teas, jasmine and other floral teas, as well as exotic infusions of even more fanciful ingredients.

Which Tea Is Good For What?

Due to their powerful antioxidant properties white, black and green teas are the mainstays of medicinal infusions that help protect the body from some of the scariest chronic conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

teas 300x225 Tea For AllVarious studies have found tea drinkers to have greater bone density and lower risk of developing arthritis or osteoporosis—benefits attributed to the abundance of phytochemicals and other antioxidant components found in tea—as well as stronger immune systems, which get extra support from the remarkable antiviral and anti-microbial clout packed by black, green, white and “twig” teas.

White Tea, as the least processed and purest, packs the highest level of antioxidants—i.e., the group of special nutrients engaged in a constant ‘search and destroy’ missions to protect the body from cancer-causing, skin- and DNA-damaging, aging-accelerating free radicals.
∞∞ White tea’s antioxidant flavonoids act as cancer cell inhibitors—sometimes as, or even more effectively than prescription drugs, but without the side effects. White tea also has blood-thinning properties that help lower blood pressure and thus decrease the risk of strokes and heart attacks.
∞∞ Catechins, another of white tea’s antioxidant component, prevents arterial buildup of plaque by helping to boost ‘good’ (HDL) cholesterol and lowering ‘bad’ (LDL) cholesterol levels.
∞∞ Perhaps because it is an anti-viral and anti-bacterial protector, white tea has been found to ease HIV symptoms. Also, since it contains small amounts of fluoride and protective nutrients, it helps keep gums healthy, teeth strong and free of plaque and bad breath-causing decay.
∞∞ Still being studied is the effect white tea has on reducing blood sugar and alleviating certain other symptoms of diabetes.
∞∞ Stress reduction and increased energy levels have been experienced by consumers of white tea—which might be due to the tea’s effectVarious teas 300x280 Tea For All on clearing the body of viruses, bacteria and other toxic intruders.

• Black Tea has also been found to help balance the body’s sugar levels and lower the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. While the caffeine in black tea does have a pick-me-up effect and helps concentration by increasing blood flow to the brain, surprisingly, the L-theanine amino acid in it also tends to reduce, for habitual tea drinkers, the stress hormone cortisol, thus turning an early evening cup of black tea into a calming and relaxing refreshment after a busy day. While black tea’s moderate caffeine level still manages to stimulate the metabolism and, as noted above, improve blood flow to the brain, it does not over-stimulate the heart, nor cause any jitters associated with coffee drinking. Other protective ingredients found in black tea include powerful alkylamine antigens and tannins.

• Green Tea, which has been the favorite beverage in Asia for centuries, has soared in recent years to the top of popularity chart in the U.S. and other western countries, due mostly to research findings about its remarkable health-boosting qualities. Proof of the latter is in the proliferation of encapsulated green tea supplements prescribed by health professionals and sold even in pharmacies.
∞∞ Green tea shares many of the health benefits of white tea, including lowering cholesterol, improving blood flow, helping to prevent hypertension and congestive heart failure, fighting bacteria and viruses that cause infections, flu, tooth decay, etc.
∞∞ Blood circulation and heart-health benefits also protect the brain by keeping its blood vessels clear. One Swiss study comparing MRIs of research subjects found that green tea drinkers showed greater activity in the brains’ memory area. Other studies have shown that green tea drinking helps to block the formation Alzhemer- and dementia-linked plaque in the brain, as well as to protect the latter from other aging-related symptoms. Research has also shown some positive results in laboratory tests, such as protective effects on neurons connected to Parkinsons disease.
Green tea leaves 204x300 Tea For All∞∞ Since both green and white teas contain catechins (which help stabilize diabetics’ sugar levels), the amino acid L-theanine (which can cross the blood-brain barrier and can lead to anti-anxiety treatments), and Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), which shows promising medicinal properties in the treatment of various diseases now being studied, they can be considered almost interchangeable.
∞∞ Green Tea also contains small amounts of health-promoting essential minerals, as well as powerful antioxidants which help reduce the risk of breast, prostate and colorectal cancers in people who drink it regularly—ranging from 22% lower risk for the first, 48% for the second and, according to the results of a recent major study of 69,710 Chinese women, green tea drinkers had a 57% lower risk of colorectal cancer.
∞∞ Weight loss among green tea drinkers can be attributed to its tendency to boost metabolic rates for short periods. While the weight loss affects body fat in general, it seems to be especially effective in helping to prevent obesity and losing dangerous abdominal fat.
** A note of caution: Do not add milk to your green tea because it will considerably reduce its antioxidant effect. However, if you haven’t yet acquired a taste for it, you could make it more palatable by adding a small amount of stevia or honey.
** For optimum health benefit, flavor and quality, use organic tea and honey.

• Chamomile Tea has been known for ages as a gentle but highly effective remedy for soothing digestive difficulties such as gas and stomach cramps, as well as a wonderful relaxant that helps conquer insomnia. Because of the latter, it is best to drink it before bedtime, since even a small cup could cause drowsiness during driving and other daytime activities.
∞∞ A herbal infusion of the chamomile plant’s flowers, this tea is as richly endowed with antioxidant properties as its leaf-based relatives. The ones found in chamomile tea are known to help slow (or sometimes even stop) the growth of cancer cells and prevent some of the cruelest side-effects of diabetes, such as vision impairment, nerve pain (usually in feet) and kidney damage.

• Lemon Ginger Tea is a double-protector, due to ginger’s active ingredient, zingiber, and lemon’s immune system boosters: pectin, tins of tea 300x108 Tea For All
vitamin-C and limonene—the latter concentrated in citrus fruit peels and used in compounds said to promote weight loss, prevent bacterial infections, as well as in the treatment of respiratory ailments and cancer. One study found that lemon ginger tea was even effective in clearing salmonella bacteria from the system after contamination.

• Herbal Teas—the French call them tisane (you might remember Hercule Poirot, the quirky Belgian detective made famous by mystery books writer Agatha Christie, always requesting tisane)—are divided in three distinct categories: Rooibos Teas, Mate Teas and herbal infusions consisting of pure herbs, fruit, flowers, roots, seeds, leaves and/or bark. All are equally tasty and excellent for hydration whether served hot or iced. Canadian herbalist Marcia Dixon recommends that herbal teas be steeped in a covered teapot to concentrate the medicinal properties of their essential oils until the teas are poured and consumed—rather than squandering their perfume in the air by steeping the teas in open vessels.
∞∞ Rooibos or Red Tea is the product of the South African red bush and is blended into various flavors. The Teavana tea company, for example, features White Chocolate Peppermint Rooibos, Caramel Chai Rooibos, Blueberry Bliss Rooibos, Spiced Apple Cider Rooibos and Zingiber Ginger Coconut Rooibos Teas, among others.
∞∞ Mate Teas, derived from the leaves and twigs of the yerba mate plant—and especially the coffee-flavored “My Morning Mate” blend—is a great favorite among coffee aficionados.
cup loose tea Tea For All∞∞ Blooming Teas—a fanciful name for artisan or flowering teas—are special treats sought after by connoisseurs for both their aesthetic and gustatory pleasures. They are combined and hand-tied by tea artists who infuse them with their own selection of flavors and scents that enhance the teas’ visual ‘designs’ as they literally “bloom” while steeping. Blooming teas make great romantic gifts to significant others.
∞∞ Peppermint Tea is famous for relieving such digestive discomforts as abdominal gas, bloating and mild nausea. It is also an effective appetite suppressant, decongestant, sinus and muscle spasm remedy and it tends to warm up a chilled body faster than other, non-alcoholic, hot beverages. Adding peppermint infusion to bath water also helps reduce the inflammation and symptoms caused by sunburn and acne—with the added benefit of adjusting the hormonal balance to reduce outbreaks of the latter.
∞∞ Ginger Tea is another great digestive aid, very effective against nausea (both caused by digestion problems and sea sickness) and upset stomach. To access its antibacterial qualities, slice or shred a ginger root and brew it, covered, in plenty of water for 15 minutes. Drink it with fresh lemon juice and honey, if you prefer and don’t forget to inhale deeply its vapors and aroma.
∞∞ Lemon Balm Tea helps to lift the spirits when one is down in the dumps. It also sharpens concentration and, when taken before bedtime, it has been found to prevent nightmares in both adults and children. (Weaker infusions are recommended for younger kids.) Lemon balm tea’s flavonoids, phenolic acids and other ingredients, make it quite effective in the treatment of cold sores and other painful skin lesions. Current studies show some of its potential as an aid in helping to prevent, stop or reverse Alzheimer’s disease. A light and refreshing beverage, lemon balm is ideal as iced tea—on its own or slightly sweetened with honey, stevia or agave syrup. It also lends itself to creative embellishments, such as mixing it with berries or other fruit.
∞∞ Milk Thistle & Dandelion Teas are the go-to liver cleanser brews, which also stimulate bile production to aid the digestive process.
∞∞ Rosehip Tea is supercharged with vitamin-C, an important immune system booster, which also helps support adrenal gland function and skin and other tissue health. Its light, tangy flavor makes rosehip tea a natural summer refreshment with ice and sliced fruit garnish, as well as a perfect remedy for colds and sore throat when served hot, with honey—or perhaps even spiked with a splash of Cognac for a bedtime drink to decongest and rise a sweat.
∞∞ Nettle Tea is an anti-inflammatory powerhouse stocked with B-Vitamins, iron, calcium and other health-promoting substances that Earl Grey Tea For Allmake it a good choice for reducing the crippling pain and stiffness of arthritis and treat diabetes and heart disease. Nettle tea has also been found to help increase the milk supply in lactating mothers.
∞∞ Oolong Tea shares many properties with other teas since it is produced from the partially fermented leaves, buds and stems of the same Camellia sinensis plant from which the fully fermented black and unfermented green tea are made. Its caffeine content is further boosted by traces of two caffeine-like components: theophylline and theobromine, which might explain Oolong’s renown as an effective stimulant known to sharpen and accelerate one’s thinking process, while also promoting mental clarity and alertness. According to some researchers, nutritionists and other health professionals, drinking Oolong tea can help prevent cancer, tooth decay, osteoporosis and even heart disease. It is also an accepted treatment aid for obesity, diabetes, atherosclerosis, eczema and other skin problems. The highly regarded Oolong or Black Dragon tea, is said to acquire its refreshing flavor and some of its healing kick from the climate in which the plant is grown and especially by having its leaves sun-dried.

(NOTE: My research, along with years-worth accumulation of anecdotal information and personal experience have convinced me that teas have, indeed, an abundance of health benefits. Still, my journalistic skepticism dictates caution before accepting quite as many claims as are being touted about some of the teas. So, dear reader, my advice is to consult your body while drinking any of these unquestionably beneficial libations, to find out for what and to what degree they can be trusted for their medicinal claims. In other words: Caveat emptor.)

Short Takes1 150x150 Healthy Food Activists Join Forces  To Bring Their Claims And Concerns To Washington, D.C.December, 2014— Wellness Warrior Deborah Székely braved icy weather as she dragged her luggage through the Washington, D.C. slush to attend the meetings of Building Power: From Kitchen Tables to Capitol Hill.

As one of its grant-makers, Deborah participated in the organization’s inaugural policy briefing, sponsored by Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Funders and consisting of a number of grassroots groups gathered to support the healthy food movement by joining forces to help implement and enforce government policies that promote good nutrition and food safety through chemical-free growing practices.

In addition to its policy briefing, the event included a presentation of the 11-minute “Youth Food Revolution” trailer (produced and directed by Emmy®-winning filmmaker Ron Rudaitis); the joining of family farmers and rangers into a unified opposition against business activities that endanger the environment; and an organized effort to effectively use the participants’ power to move the dial away from obesity- and illness-causing junk food to healthier fare.

Delighted by the turnout and participants’ passion, Deborah Székely concludes her report with characteristic down to earth conclusion: “Healthy fresh food is one of the biggest movements of our day. We’re all Wellness Warriors in this fight to know that what we eat is organic, sustainable and just plain good for us.”Screen shot 2014 12 13 at 8.02.57 PM 150x150 Healthy Food Activists Join Forces  To Bring Their Claims And Concerns To Washington, D.C.






P1010614 300x225 Red Cabbage Sweet & Sour Side DishRed Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable, related to other cabbage species, cauliflower, broccoli and other antioxidants known to be powerful anti-cancer protectors, which are also packed with immune-boosting nutrients.

This versatile dish is equally delicious when served hot as a side dish with meat, fowl, fish or vegetarian main courses; or cold as a flavoring addition to green and chopped crudité salads, as well as a condiment accompanying any combination of delicacies found in cold buffets (such as herring, humus, avocado, hardboiled eggs, smoked tofu, tabouli, fish-, pasta-, quinoa- or lentil salads, etc.).

The Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage dish prepared as in the recipe below, not only stays fresh in the refrigerator for 12 or more days, but it actually acquires richer flavors as it marinates in the sauce created by the herbs, spices, apple cider vinegar & other ingredients. The dish can also be kept frozen for 4-6 months without losing any of its flavor or body. We do advise, however, that it be frozen in batches small enough to allow defrosting just the right number of portions that will be entirely consumed at the next meal. (In short, it is best not to refrigerate leftovers that have been defrosted.)


 Ingredients—Best to use all organic ingredients

= 1 medium size red cabbage

= ½ medium size red (or yellow) onion

= 1/3 cup of olive oil

= 4–5 cloves of fresh garlic

= 4–5 fresh basil leaves—or 1 tablespoon of dry basil
= 1 tablespoon dry parsley

= between 1/8–1/4 teaspoon thyme (to taste or preference)

= 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

= 1 pinch of Cayenne pepper (to taste or preference)

= between 1/8–1/4 teaspoon ginger powder

= ¼ teaspoon sweet red paprika

= ¼ teaspoon powdered Turmeric

= ½ cup vegetable broth

= ½ cup apple cider vinegar

= 1 tablespoon honey

= Salt—optional

Easy Step-by-Step Prep & Cooking

  • Peel off outer leaves & discard
  • Cut red cabbage into quarters
  • Cleaning: Fill big bowl with clean, cold water & add 3 good squirts of liquid Castile soap (buy & use the Eucalyptus-infused kind); immerse cabbage, pulling its leaves apart & washing it as thoroughly as possible. Pour cabbage & soapy water into big colander; rinse away soap; wash & rinse bowl well & fill it with clean cold water; pour rinsed cabbage into it to rinse some more; wash & rinse colander & pour the cabbage into it, rinsing the cabbage thoroughly with the spray feature of your kitchen faucet. Let the cabbage drip for now
  • Prepare the ingredients before you start cooking & place them in separate bowls:
    1. Shake excess water off the cabbage & chop it into easily edible strips & bits & return them to colander
    2. Peel and chop the onion & set aside in a bowl
    3. Peel & chop the garlic cloves & set aside in a saucer
    4. Mix herbs & spices in a small soup bowl
    5. In a measuring cup, mix the apple cider vinegar with a little hot or warm water and the honey until the latter dissolves & blends with the liquid. Set aside.
  • Pour olive oil into large (soup) pot & turn the stove burner to LOW.
  • Add the copped onion & sauté while mixing it frequently
  • When the onion becomes glassy, add the chopped garlic & sauté for 5 more seconds. Keep mixing to avoid burning the onion and garlic—if necessary, turn heat down even more or take pot off burner for a few seconds to avoid overheating the olive oil to the point of bubbling or smoking.
  • Add sliced or chopped red cabbage & keep mixing to avoid burning or sticking to the pot
  • Mix the dry herbs & spices in a saucer & spread them as evenly as possible over the cabbage. Add the 1-teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, mix & cover. Let it cook for 2 minutes, then add the vegetable broth—or water, if preferred—mix well, cover & let it simmer for 15 minutes, adding water as needed. Taste cabbage for ‘done’-ness from time to time—don’t overcook; when ready, it should be somewhat crunchy or al dente. Make sure the burner is on LOW & keep an eye on the dish so it doesn’t burn.
  • Add the apple cider vinegar & honey, integrating them into the dish by mixing well for 2-3 minutes. Turn off heat, move pot to a cool burner & let it stand for 5-10 minutes to let the dish deepen its flavors.


By Catharine Kaufman (a.k.a. The Kitchen Shrink)

Cheers to the power of small things! To autumn’s jewel-like cranberries that pack as much super-food punch in their ruby-red spheres as do blueberries and their other Lilliputian relatives that yield their bounty in spring and summer.

Screen shot 2014 11 10 at 12.34.43 PM 300x215 Cranberries—Mighty Little Healing Powerhouse Displays of the tart little berries among the fall produce on supermarket shelves always transport me back to my childhood in Canada, where our family would go cranberry picking in the Muskoka bog* every year. My initiation came when, expecting sweetness the first time I bit into one of the tempting crimson fruit, the mouth-puckering shock made me forget my manners and spat it out.

Since then, of course, I’ve become enamored of cranberries, which are among the few fruits native to North America and one of the signature foods enriching yet another indigenous fall product of the continent: Thanksgiving. Needless to say, I’m delighted that canning, freezing and other preserving technologies now allow us to enjoy this versatile berry year-round—which I take advantage of by preparing relishes, jellied desserts and condiments whenever the spirit inspires me. A big aficionado of dried cranberries, I knead them into the dough of my baked goods, sprinkle them liberally onto salads and use them to kick up the flavor of soups, stews and other dishes.

(*Thanks to their built-in air pockets, cranberries are bouncy on solid surfaces and float when grown and harvested in water—a method now preferred to cultivating them in bogs and marshes. Not only is harvesting water-grown cranberries easier, but the fruit also benefits from being exposed to more sunlight, which deepens its red color and increases its nutrient content.)

The Mighty Cranberry (a.k.a. Bog Berry) Health Protector

Long before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, Native Americans were familiar with the healing and nutritional qualities of cranberries—which they pulped into an antibacterial poultice for the treatment of arrow wounds and other injuries; or mashed and mixed with deer meat to make pemmican, a staple dish that helped tribes survive the long, cold winters.Screen shot 2014 11 10 at 12.33.53 PM 300x268 Cranberries—Mighty Little Healing Powerhouse

Low in calories but rich in fiber, the cranberry is nature’s protector of the cardiovascular and digestive systems and, thanks to its abundant Vitamin A content, of our eyesight. Its stress-lowering B- vitamins, immune system boosting Vitamin C and its Vitamin K content, which regulates blood viscosity and composition, also distinguish cranberries for their medicinal value. Added to the latter are their considerable store of fortifying minerals, such as manganese, phosphorus and copper; as well as powerful antioxidants—the most popular among them, proanthocyanidins, prevent and, in most cases. help cure urinary tract infections, due to their anti-adhesive properties that keep bacteria from glomming onto urinary tract linings. Most UTIs can be cleared up without antibiotics, by merely drinking a daily shot or two of unsweetened cranberry juice as early as possible from the onset of symptoms, until about 36 hours after they have subsided. Also abundant in cranberries’ arsenal of phytonutrients are anti-inflammatory components, which help protect the mouth and gums, warding off periodontal disease; protect the colon and stomach by preventing ulcers, and the cardiovascular system by lowering blood pressure and keeping “bad” cholesterol in check, while boosting the ratio of ‘good’ cholesterol. Equally important are the results of studies showing that cranberries are effective anti-cancer warriors in the fight against breast, colon, lung and prostate cancers.

Although, unlike pharmaceuticals, cranberries have no known side effects, they do come with a couple of warnings:

  1. People susceptible to kidney stones should limit their intake to small amounts on rare occasions, since the calcium in their body tends to bind with some elements found in the fruit and form the hard (calcified) clusters which cause that painful condition.
  2. Like most acidic fruits, cranberry can also pit tooth enamel—a problem easily avoided by rinsing the mouth as soon as possible after consuming it and by using a straw when drinking its juice.

How to Pick Winners

Screen shot 2014 11 10 at 12.31.49 PM Cranberries—Mighty Little Healing PowerhouseWhen shopping for cranberries, select firm and smooth (not shriveled), bright scarlet globules, without brown spots or other blemishes. Vacuum-packed cranberries can keep in their original package in the fridge for up to two weeks and in the freezer for one year. But if you buy loose cranberries by the pound, just pinch off any leftover stems and wash the fruit—first in a bowl of cold water with a few squirts of liquid Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap (preferably the ‘Eucalyptus’-infused kind), then rinse the berries thoroughly, also in cold water, until they are soap-free squeaky. Let them drip or pat dry, seal them in zip-lock freezer bags and freeze, so they’ll be ready to use when you are, at a later date or, if you prefer, to prepare them then and there, fresh, crushed raw or cooked.

Let’s Get Saucy

A traditional holiday table feels naked without cranberry relish, jelly or sauce accompanying the turkey, chicken or even vegan tofu turkey (Tofurky®). So why not expand your cranberry horizons year-round by adding this decorative eye candy, its zip and antioxidant oomph to several courses prepared for any meals? Go crazy. Include fresh or dried cranberries in biscottis, scones, corn breads, cobblers, granola, English Trifle, French Clafoutis, rice pudding and flan. Or use the tart and fruity bits to dial up the flavors of brisket, baked chicken, lamb roasts, stuffings, quinoa and bulgur wheat taboulis, pilafs, green salads, seafood bouillabaisse and grilled or sautéed wild-caught salmon and other fish.

A Cranberry Walks Into a Bar…

Screen shot 2014 11 10 at 12.35.34 PM 200x300 Cranberries—Mighty Little Healing PowerhouseThe cocktail crowd could whet their whistle with a Cranberry Vodka Punch, Cran-Martini, Cosmopolitan and Margarita. Meanwhile, eccentric oenophiles may risk their sensitive palates by tasting wines coaxed from this, as well as from a combination of other berries—which can also be served as chilled punch or, fizzed up with club soda for an ersatz bubbly.

Cranberry Pedigree

Native Americans called it ibimi, their word for bitter berry, until immigrant German and Dutch settlers renamed it cranberry because of its blossom’s resemblance to the crane bird’s neck and head. Obviously, the more appetizing moniker stuck.

Food historians believe that cranberries were served at the first Thanksgiving feast that brought natives and Pilgrims together in Plymouth. But it seems that the real American love affair with cranberry sauce began in earnest much later, in 1912, when the product was first marketed as a companion to meat and fowl dishes. Today the nation consumes more than 400 million pounds of variously sweetened version of the condiment each year—most of the 20 percent of which is gobbled up in jellied form during Thanksgiving week. In fact, cranberries are now a traditional fare, served at 94 percent of Thanksgiving dinner in the U.S. alone.

(I’ll spare you the Canadian statistics, although since 1957, my native country has been celebrating Thanksgiving on a different date from my adopted one—the second Monday of October—giving me a perfect excuse to prolong the fun and improvise new holiday dishes with which to spoil my family.)

Refreshing Raw Relish Recipe

Since cranberries are composed of nearly 90 percent water, I love to riff on the traditional sauce by preparing a raw, crunchy and refreshing relish that requires no cooking and, what’s more, it can be adapted to a second use by blending appropriate portions with mustard or mayonnaise and adding it as a condiment to leftover turkey sandwiches. Guaranteed to elevate them way above the accustomed (boring?) post-holiday treats.

Gobble, gobble…

1-pound fresh cranberries, washed, stems removed

2 oranges or mandarins, peeled and chopped

½ inch piece of fresh ginger, shredded

½ cup amber honey (adjust to taste)

1-teaspoon (or less) raw (dark brown) sugar

¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder

Zest of one lemon

In a food processor or blender, coarsely chop cranberries and oranges. Transfer to a glass bowl and blend in remaining ingredients. Refrigerate. It will keep well for 2 weeks.

Portions used as sandwich condiment should be used when prepared.

(For additional cranberry or other recipes, email us at, or to The Kitchen Shrink directly at .)





Catharine’s Book

Jolene loves junk food. She loves it so much she wears red licorice in her hair—and pink taffy underwear! The Munch Bunch calls her "The Junk Food Queen." Then, one night in her dreams, she meets a bunch of cool characters who take her on an incredible, edible journey into a world of juicy fruits, super salads and yummy smoothies.
Book acclaimed by The Diabetes Research Institute Foundation - which uses it in its fundraising drives.

Organics Controversy

FreeRangeClub Editor Corrects “Is It Organic?” Author’s Perception of Flaws in Organic Food Industry

Our Catharine “The Kitchen Shrink” Kaufman recently received the following comment from Mischa Popoff in Osoyoos BC Canada , under the heading of “The inside story of the organic industry.”

Mr. Popoff’s e-mail was forwarded to me for reply—mostly because researching all things pertaining to organic foods, from production to consumption, has been my task since FRC first hit the Web. Far from claiming expertise—the topic is too vast and changeable—I merely admit to passionate interest in factual information that leads to safe foods and healthy nutrition.

We decided to share this exchange to answer some questions and perhaps come up with new ones. Hope you won’t hesitate to chime—opinions, conclusions, different information are all welcome. Post your comments, corrections, critiques, messages and contributions to this discussion directly on this site or e-mail them to me at FreeRangeClub.

E-mail from Mr. Mischa Popoff to The Kitchen Shrink:

Dear Catharine,

To listen to some media outlets you’d think the multi-billion-dollar organic industry was infallible. I’m trusting you’ll be a bit more objective.

As you may already know, I worked for five years in the United States and Canada as an organic inspector. I believe fervently in the principles of organic farming but maintain that we have to prove those principles instead of operating on the politicized, bureaucratic honor system that’s been the organic industry’s mainstay for the last decade.

See remainder of Mr. Popoff's Email & Dina's Reply

Our International Friends

Bridging Two Continents
The Movable Festa Of Aroma Cucina

by Dina Eliash Robinson

Ciao Dina, Thanks so much for your interest in Aroma Cucina!. My wife, Jude, and I are honored to be part of the Jeff

My discovery of the bi-continental Aroma Cucina while surfing the Internet for food sites and recipe ideas, turned out to be a case of mistaken identity—specifically, my mistake in thinking it was a restaurant. Not.



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Video Section

Mother’s Day Cooking Class By the Kitchen Shrink

Seeds at San Diego City College Wins Awards For It’s Urban Agriculture

Healthy Cookin with the Kitchen Shrink – Veggie Fried Rice


Catharine Kaufman, the Kitchen Shrink, appears in a series of five videos. In the first video she is seen interviewing Dr. Lisa Loegering, MD, a pediatrician, concerning children's eating habits. The other four videos take place in Catharine's kitchen, as she instructs her two daughters, and two of their friends, in the preparation of various dishes.

Children’s Eating Habits-Interview w/Pediatrician

Catharine and her Pizza Chefs

Making Baked Stuffed Apple

Fruit Sparklers and Feast

Make Your Own Salad

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution

English chef Jamie Oliver has come to the U.S. to start a revolution, to help save America's children from obesity and other food-related Illnesses. His successful efforts in the U.K. has resulted in improved school lunches in many communities there, as well as a total overhaul of the school dinner (lunch in the US) programs in that country. Following is a video of Jamie Oliver speaking before an audience at a TED conference.

A Video of Zoie (11) teaching us to make healthy sushi!

        Zoie (11 years old) is teaching us to make healthy sushi, with organic brown rice and organic avocado. Please click on healthy sushi to view the video.

Tender Greens Restaurant