Day 15 – the Liver’s Detoxification Role

Posted April 13th, 2011 in Detoxification, Meatless, Recipes by Rebecca Lane
Rapini Rice Bowl

The liver acts as the body’s main factory for breaking down, neutralizing, detoxifying and removing chemicals, poisons, body wastes and unused and undigested food surpluses. It handles about 40% of all of the body’s detoxification work.

It has three main functions:

  1. Filtration – the liver contains cells called Kupffer cells which are phagocytes (white blood cells that protect the body by ingesting (phagocytosing) harmful foreign particles, bacteria, and dead or dying cells). These Kupffer cells filter the blood and eradicate large molecules and pathogenic bacteria and toxins. In a healthy liver, these cells eradicate 99% of bacteria.
  2. Bile Secretion – the liver produces bile which binds with toxins, harmful poisons and wastes (including those removed via step 1 filtration and step 3 enzymatic pathways) and removes them from the body via the intestines in feces. Inadequate fibre causes the process to slow down causing many toxins to be reabsorbed in the intestines.
  3. Enzymatic Pathways – the liver disassembles toxins via a two-step process known as Phase 1 and Phase 2 detoxification.
    1. Phase 1 – a group of enzymes called cytochrome P450 either directly disassemble toxins, convert toxins to water-soluble substances which can be eliminated via urine, convert toxins to less toxic chemicals for removal, or convert toxins to activated intermediaries for Phase 2 conjugation.
    2. Phase 2 – these are called Conjugation Pathways because one molecule is bound to a toxin thereby converting it into a water-soluble substance that can be evacuated via urine. There are 7 different molecules chosen by the body depending on the toxin to be disassembled (eg. Amino acids, sulfation, methylation, glutathione, glucuronidation)

There are many ways to support the liver in its detox role.

  1. Keep the blood and organs well hydrated with lots of water.
  2. Avoid harmful substances, sugars, alcohol, high protein diets, coffee, saturated fat, and smoking.
  3. Support the Phase 1 detoxification pathways with lots of brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, Bussels sprouts, kale, rapini, collards), oranges, and tangerines.
  4. Support the Phase 2 detoxification pathways with brassicas, legumes, oatmeal, oranges, lemons, tangerines, whole grains, green tea, red peppers, fresh berries, and omega 3 fish oils.
  5. Supplement with milk thistle, magnesium, B complex vitamins, selenium, and zinc.

I realize I’ve given a lot of information. These Phase 1 and 2 pathways need to work together, if the Phase 1 works faster than Phase 2, then a backlog of activated intermediaries can occur. These can cause symptoms of fatigue and nausea among others. If you have underactive Phase 1 enzymes, you may be more sensitive to medications than the average person and require smaller dosages, may be hypersensitive to perfumes, paint fumes, easily affected by caffeine and alcohol. Just another indication of the importance of maintaining balance within the body.

One of my favourite dinners includes several of the foods suggested above. Remember that you can add Flax seed oil (an omega-3 oil) to replace part of the olive oil in a salad dressing recipe. But never heat it – omega 3 oils cannot take any heat.

Rapini Rice Bowl

1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. vegetable stock
1 head rapini, chopped
1 head bok choy, chopped
1 bunch swiss chard, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbsp. tahini
1 large handful, chopped mushrooms
4 cups cooked brown basmati rice
2 sheets nori, torn (seaweed)
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 batch simple sauce (from ReFresh – copied below)

Heat the olive oil and vegetable stock at medium heat in medium saucepan. Add the onions, garlic and mushrooms until fragrant – 5 minutes. Add the greens and steam until tender and bright green.

Put 1 cup of the cooked brown basmati rice in each bowl. Stir in 1 Tbsp of tahini and ½ sheet of crumbled nori. Arrange the steamed vegetables on top, sprinkle with slivered almonds, then drizzle with simple sauce over the vegetables and rice.

Simple Sauce (p. 92 of ReFresh – a Vegan cookbook I just LOVE and use for inspiration often)

½ cup tamari
3 Tbsp sesame oil
1 ½ inch ginger root, peeled and minced
4 Tbsp lemon juice

Put all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and serve over the rice.

Day 14 – How we Detoxify

Posted April 12th, 2011 in Detoxification, Meatless, Recipes by Rebecca Lane

Exercise is a great detoxifying tool

Our body has 11 ways that it cleans itself constantly. These detox pathways are going on all of the time, while we eat, as we sleep – we don’t consciously know that they are working away, but they are. Their efficiency depends on many factors and I’ll describe them in some detail as we learn about them. If you want more detailed information, please let me know and I can help you to find what you need.

The blood
As we all learned in high school, our blood carries nutrients and oxygen to all parts of the body and carries away cellular waste products. These waste products are delivered to the liver for detoxification and elimination.

If the blood becomes ‘sticky’, meaning it has an increased viscosity; it is less able to circulate freely through the small capillaries of the body. This stickiness can lead to the development of disease states because the blood can’t be efficient in either picking up waste, or dropping off food and oxygen.

Blood becomes sticky for several reasons: dehydration; the presence of pathogens like fungi, viruses, bacteria, and parasites which cause the blood to become thick through the body’s immune response to them; food sensitivities also cause immune response; heavy metal toxicity and exposure to environmental toxins; stress and trauma can also cause the blood to become thick.

Exercise is one way we can keep the heart muscle pumping strongly and blood flowing smoothly. Also make sure to drink lots of water to keep the blood hydrated and thin.

The lungs
With each exhalation, we release toxic gases and end products of cell metabolism. When we breathe slowly and deeply, we aerate a greater volume of the lungs and enhance their cleansing ability.

That’s why so many meditation practices include breathing as part of the practice. Often when we feel stressed, our breathing becomes quite shallow using only a small portion of the actual lung capacity. It can be very cleansing and refreshing to actually take ‘breathing breaks’ throughout the day when we consciously take several deep breaths in, hold and then exhale completely.

The skin
The skin opens its pores and releases water-soluble toxins through perspiration. Sweating is one of the ways that we can eliminate toxins that reside in our fat cells.

Exercise is critical for healthy skin – but the body must be allowed to perspire. Anti-perspirants block the body’s natural cleansing process and as a result should be avoided. Another method to induce sweating is through using saunas – especially when followed by a cold plunge or shower.

It is important to sweat during every season in order to get rid of those toxins. However, it is also important to use a proper cleanser and body wash following any strenuous workout. It doesn’t make any sense to sweat, eliminate toxins, and then use a chemically produced cleanser. Instead, choose all-natural skincare products for use after you sweat.

The digestive organs
Saliva in your mouth, stomach acid and digestive enzymes in the stomach and pancreas all are responsible for breaking down harmful toxins and pathogens in the same way as they digest food. These digestive organs are the first line of defences for the rest of the body, killing harmful bacteria, fungi, yeast and viruses before they can gain a foothold in our intestinal tracts.

Often as we age, or if we are living in a highly stressed environment, we don’t produce enough stomach acid and enzymes to be able to protect our bodies from these pathogens. Another thing that decreases the acidity of our stomachs is taking antacids.
Signs and symptoms of low stomach acid include bloating, belching, and flatulence immediately after meals; heartburn (often thought to be caused by too much stomach acid); indigestion, diarrhea, or constipation; undigested food in stools; acne; chronic candida; multiple food allergies; weak, peeling, or cracked fingernails; chronic fatigue – and that’s not all of the signs!

You can increase your stomach acidity by eliminating mineral-depleting sugar and sweeteners, eliminating processed foods (white flours and grains – eat whole foods rather than food in boxes), and adding fermented foods and drinks to your diet. Another way to increase your digestive juices is to start your day with lemon juice in water – if you’re sensitive to citrus try bitters 15 to 20 minutes before each meal.

That’s four of the 11 – we’ll talk about the liver tomorrow. Bet you can’t wait!

Coconut Beans and Rice

This recipe came from Sherri Doak who made it last night and raved about it enough that now I have to make it tonight to see if it’s really as good as she says!

1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp curry powder (Arvinda’s Curry Masala – use less – or Lala’s)
1 14-oz can Adzuki beans (or use 1 ½ cups of sprouted, cooked Adzuki beans for extra digestibility)
3 cups finely chopped, mixed greens (bok choy, kale, spinach, broccoli, collards – 3 cups fresh or 1 ½ cups frozen)
1 can coconut milk
1 cup brown basmati rice
2 cups filtered water (or 1 cup water, 1 cup vegetable stock)
1 tsp salt

Cook the rice in the water and salt per package instructions and set aside.

Heat the coconut oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat – add the onions and garlic and cook until fragrant 2-3 minutes. Add in the curry powder and swirl around in the oil another minute. Add the beans and greens and cook until heated through – about 5 minutes. Add in the coconut milk to make a creamy sauce – and just heat through again.

Serve over the rice with a mango salad. I’m looking forward to tasting this!

Day 11 – a Night for Grilling

Posted April 9th, 2011 in Meat in, Meatless, Recipes by Rebecca Lane

Spring on the Danforth

What a beautiful day. I think that everyone feels happier when the sun smiles on their faces, cause everyone downtown was happy and talking and friendly. Both of the children were busy today, so Mark and I spent the day shopping and eating on the Danforth.

We had lunch at a little pub and I had an amazing pizza – basil pesto, feta cheese, spinach and carmelized onions. It was sooo delicious. I’m going to try and make it myself and then post the recipe – wish me luck! With it I had a dark ale – Mill Street Tankhouse Ale – which was really flavourful and didn’t overwhelm the pizza.

Because my feet hurt now and I’m looking forward to just sitting down with a big bottle of water (yes, I’m drinking water to refresh), we’re keeping it simple for supper.

Grilled Chicken and Vegetables

BBQ vegetables

Vegetables – chopped in large chunks, a little larger than bite-sized otherwise they grill too quickly
Red onion
Red pepper
Small eggplant
handful of mushrooms
Small zucchini

Coat vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with dulse flakes. Toss to make sure that they are well covered. I grill them in a cast-iron bowl that looks more like a colander than a bowl. I’ll see if I can find a photo online.

Chicken – 1/2 a breast per person
Marinade for 2-4 hours:
1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 c. lemon juice (juice of 1 lemon)
1 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. oregano

Take chicken breasts out of marinade and discard (marinade, not the chicken!).  Put the vegetables and chicken on the BBQ for the same amount of time, making sure to toss the vegetables whenever you check on the chicken.

Serve with a mixed greens salad with a lemon-vinagrette dressing.

Lemon-Vinagrette Dressing
(here’s the one from Jamie Oliver’s cookbook Jamie’s Food Revolution)

Put 6 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil into a jam jar, with a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Squeeze in the juice of 1 lemon (I add about a tbsp of zest of lemon just to give it a bit more zing). Put the lid on the jar and shake well. If you like it a little sweeter, add 1 tbsp of maple syrup.

Day 5 – Sunday, a day of rest

Posted April 3rd, 2011 in Meatless, Recipes by Rebecca Lane
The Crow's Nest, Newmarket

The Crow's Nest

Sunday is a special day at our house. It’s the one day of the week when we always get together for dinner. And we always eat together at The Crow’s Nest, a small British pub just down the street from our home.

What we love about Sunday dinner is that it’s the one time of the week when we actually talk with each other. We joke around, and we know everyone at the pub, in fact over the years they’ve become a part of our family. They also know that we use this special time as our ‘together’ time and let us talk.

I think it’s important to have traditions like this. We can walk here, so no gasoline is wasted. And what the kids like best is that once the dinner is finished, and the conversation is completed, they can just walk home and get on with their evening, while Mark and I often stay for a drink alone together.

I did make a delicious lunch today, and it only took seconds to put together when I took a break from working in the garden.

Wraps filled with Guacomole, spinach, sprouts and salsa (serves 2 or 1 very hungry gardener)

1 avocado, peeled, pitted and mashed

2 Tbsp salsa (today I used Jack’s Salsa, but in the summer I usually have fresh salsa sitting around for snacking on)

2 ancient grain tortilla shells

handful spinach

handful sprouts

sprinkle of dulse

Mash the avocado with 1 Tbsp of salsa. Spread on the 2 tortilla wraps. In the centre of each, add a handful of spinach, sprouts (today I had broccoli sprouts on hand), and sprinkle with dulse. Then add another 1/2 Tbsp of salsa on the top of each.

Fold them up and enjoy. If your salsa is very wet (like mine was), this is a very messy, but delicious snack.

I finished off with an orange,  one litre of water (with chlorophyll in it), and went back out into the garden.

I might have eaten 2 or 3 little chocolate Easter eggs (the mini kind) that were sitting on the counter!


Day 4 – Curious about curries?

Posted April 2nd, 2011 in Meatless, Recipes by Rebecca Lane
Aloo Gobi

Aloo Gobi Curry

I grew up in the Middle East, and I’ve always loved the flavours, aromas and textures of curries. On a beautiful spring day like today when I’ve spent the day working in the garden, there’s nothing easier or more nutritious than a curry.

Curcumin is one of the main ingredients of a curry. You may know it more commonly as turmeric. This versatile spice is antiangiogenic (click on the angiogenesis category to find out more about this) and has benefits for inflammatory diseases like arthritis as well as for diabetes and cancer.

There are three different types of curries – depending on the area the recipe comes from. We’re making a yellow curry today, but there are also red and green curries.

Red Curries

The typical Thai curry is red, and has a good balance of hot, sweet, sour, salty and bitter tastes. The heat can be controlled by the type and number of chilies added to the paste, and can be cooled down by adding coconut milk (a must for curries in my family’s opinion). Palm sugar is usually used to give that little sweetness. The main ingredients are garlic, shallots, red chilies, galangal, shrimp paste, salt, kaffir lime peel, coriander root, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns and lemon grass. These ingredients form the base paste to which you can add the vegetables, fruit, meat or fish of your choice.

Yellow Curries

This curry is richer and creamier than the red curry, because of the addition of coconut cream as well as coconut milk. Because of the richness, it tends to not taste as spicy. The primary spices are cumin, coriander, turmeric, fenugreek, garlic, salt, bay leaf, lemon grass, cayenne pepper, ginger, mace and cinnamon.

Green Curries

Green curries tend to be as hot as red curries; however, despite their heat they have a sweetness that is not usually associated with red curries. The main ingredients for the sauce consist of coconut milk, green chilies, shallots, garlic, galangal, kaffir lime peel, roasted coriander and cumin seeds, white peppercorns and shrimp paste.

Aloo Gobi with saffron rice

This recipe was given to me during my cooking course at IHN by Kamsella Nadoo who has since left Toronto for Vancouver I believe. Anyway, its a family favourite and I hope that you enjoy it too.

Step 1

2 Tbsp coconut oil (or ghee)

3 tsp mustard seeds

Put the two together in a covered saucepan on medium heat and leave until the seeds start to pop. Then add

3 tsp urad dhal (like lentils but cook faster – you can replace with 1 can of chick peas which I do often)

Cook for 1-2 minutes.

Step 2


10 curry leaves (or you can use 2 Tbsp curry powder – Lala’s is my favourite brand)

3 dried whole chilies (I’ll be hones and say that I often use a combination of cayenne pepper – not much – and Asian chili sauce as I find whole chilies a little strong for me)

1 tsp turmeric

Cook 1 minute stirring to form a nice paste.

Step 3

Add 1 head cauliflower – chopped into bite-sized pieces

3 large potatoes – I leave the skins on but chop into bite-sized pieces

1 1/4 tsp salt.

Cook covered on low heat for 20 minutes. Garnish with shredded coconut and fresh coriander.

Saffron Rice

2 Tbsp coconut oil or ghee

1 tsp cumin seeds

3 large pinches saffron

Warm spices for 1-2 minutes until fragrant (medium heat)

Add rice (1 cup of basmati rice) and stir and cover for 2 minutes.

Add 2 cups of water (or a combo of half water, half vegetable stock) and boil for 5 minutes, then turn it down to a low simmer – cover and leave for 10  minutes until all of the liquid is absorbed. Once the liquid is absorbed, add 1 can of coconut milk and let simmer again.

At the last minutes, stir in 1/2 red pepper chopped very small, and green peas just until softened. I find that once I add the vegetables to the rice, I call the children to set the table and that’s lots of time.

Notes from last nights dinner:

I replaced the salt with kombu in the soup, and before I added it to the rice noodles it was perfect. But the rice noodles on their own were a little bland (instructions on the package said to pour boiling water over them and leave for 20 minutes). Next time I’ll add some kombu to that water too or a little sea salt for more depth of flavour to the whole meal.

Thanks to Longos “experience” magazine, Spring 2011 issue for the article on curries pp. 34 – 35

Raw Foods Witch

Posted February 1st, 2011 in Breast Cancer, Meatless, Raw Foods by Rebecca Lane
Today I found a wonderful voice on the web – the Raw Foods Witch. Her site is fun, informative and really does take the scary out of raw food. Further, she has taken her passion for food and made a fabulous, interactive, versatile site for everyone to use. You can input your recipes and it will “magically” make a grocery list for you. Even more, she has some great posts that really bring the whole in holistic to mind. When you get a chance, go visit her site, and stop by this great post: Make sure that you sign up for her Cues – you’ll find yourself waiting for Wednesdays!Way to go Nathalie – great job! Thanks for providing valuable information without being militant about it.

Chef Chloe’s Newsletter

Posted November 5th, 2010 in Meatless, Recipes by Rebecca Lane

Chloe has just sent out her newsletter with a Vegan Thanksgiving theme – but those portobello mushrooms stuffed with lentils, rice, cashews, tomato and herbs look worth expiring over. I’m thinking that I should make some asap!Here’s the link: