Nutrition misinformation – Supplements.

The following statement will probably piss you off:

Vitamins and most nutritional supplements provide no proven long-term health benefit. In fact, some vitamins taken in isolation can cause disease. Vitamin E is a good example. Vitamin E, once the darling of the supplement set, has been shown to increase the risk of developing cancer and heart disease.



Whoa. Feels good to get that off my chest!

Some food-based products may be helpful, such as krill oil and fish oil – which provide Omega 3 fatty acids. Research has shown that these products may improve both cardio-vascular health and cognitive function. However, Omega 3 supplements also decrease the blood’s ability to clot so be wary if you are on an anticoagulant. Speak to your doctor before taking an Omega 3 supplement.

A few commonly used and abused supplements:



Ginkgo Biloba – Often recommended for use with dementia patients. Not particularly effective and can cause bleeding.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C

Vitamin C – Vitamin C may actually have some efficacy in preventing colds or decreasing the duration of colds, but long-term use has been associated with an increased risk of cancer. Whenever I’ve had a significant exposure to a cold or the flu, or at the first sign of a sore throat, I take 2000 mg. of Vitamin C and I continue to take 2000-6000 mg. of Vitamin C for three days. It seems to help me, but this is anecdotal, of course. Be aware– high doses of Vitamin C also impair blood clotting.



Tumeric – Tumeric is the new cure-all. I don’t dispute the spice’s healthful properties. It is prescribed for certain conditions by practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine. However, I know a number of true believers who take multiple capsules containing Tumeric every single day, several times a day. It also happens that these particular people are always sick. I believe that anything taken in isolation and at high doses is bad. Tumeric, used regularly in cooking– curries, stews, marinades– is our friend.

A few healthful herbs and spices and seeds and lilies (bulbs):  Cumin. Chili powder. Cayenne. Garlic. Onions. (Do not give your dog onions. Onions are toxic for dogs. Large dogs can handle small amounts, small dogs should probably avoid onions.) Thyme – Thyme is a very healthful spice. A dry rub containing thyme helps prevent grilled meat from forming carcinogens. Yes, grilling meats does cause carcinogens to develop on the surface of the meat. Those grill marks we love? Tasty but not so healthy. I use thyme in all my dry rubs. Basil. Oregano, but be aware oregano can cause indigestion which is why I don’t use a premixed Italian Seasoning. The best way to add oregano to sauces and stews is to add it at the end of the cooking process. Sage. Rosemary. Paprika (a type of chili pepper). Black pepper– although it’s a little known fact that black peppercorns are quite toxic in large doses. As in you can die from ingesting large amounts of black pepper. Cinnamon is a terrific spice. Adding cinnamon to your breakfast cereal can help your body regulate blood sugar levels. Nutmeg is a nice addition to meat dishes– it’s not only good for pumpkin pie. But nutmeg is toxic in larger doses. Cloves elevate your mood. Mustard seed can help with lung ailments.

Although some people are salt sensitive, salt is an essential nutrient. Without sodium, we die. Our body uses sodium to regulate fluid ebb and flow (the sea inside). Fortunately it’s found in many foods so if you are salt sensitive you don’t need to add extra salt to your food. I’m sort of a stickler for salt– Add the minimum and I use Kosher salt or another sea salt.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m a huge fan of herbs and spices. For centuries herbs and spices (i.e. various parts of plants) were our medications. Plants contains chemical compounds that can heal wounds, relieve symptoms and even cure some illnesses. Most drugs in western medicine are plant based, or were originally plant based.

Unfortunately most of us don’t have a good understanding of the proper usage of herbs and spices as medicine, so we read the latest headlines and jump on the supplement of the month bandwagon.

Cocoa powder

Cocoa powder

My idea of daily supplements? Real food. Plus– Coffee. Tea. Chocolate. I even add coffee and cocoa powder to my marinades and dry rubs. I have both a coffee grinder and a spice grinder to serve my needs.

Any questions? Feel free to ask. If I don’t know I’ll do a little research.

Here’s to healthy eating! Julia

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Larcenous Peach Pie. The Pleasure of Stolen Plums.

Peach Pie.

Peach Pie.

Whatever is wrong with people? Why would you plant a peach tree and then let the peaches rot? Seriously. Peaches are summer gold to me so if you plant a peach tree and you don’t plan to pick the peaches, I will. And in addition to flat out eating the peaches, I will make peach pie, peach cobbler and peach jam. See here:

Peach Jam.

Peach Jam.

On my walks with Jake we’ve come across unharvested and rotting peaches and plums. I don’t get it. This is food. People pay big money for this kind of food. At least post a sign that says, “Please pick”or “Please give to the homeless.”

I’ve made a peach pie, peach jam, and plum jam which is the best, the very best. I made 4 quarts. And I’ve barely begun– there are so many peaches and plums waiting for me.

Plum Jam.

Plum Jam.

A general jam recipe:

The typical jam recipe calls for equal amounts of fruit and sugar. This does work best when it comes to consistency. However I like my jams tart and I’m not all that fond of excessive sugar, so I tend to start out with, say, half as much sugar as fruit and then taste. I also add 1/4 tsp. of salt to the fruit/sugar mixture. (Plums tend to be super tart so I usually add more sugar– if I have 6 cups of plums I add 4 cups of sugar.)

(FYI I do not add spices. I prefer the simple fruity goodness.)

Let the fruit, sugar and salt sit in a stainless steel saucepan for 1-2 hours. Put on the stove, cover, and bring to a slow simmer. Reduce heat and just barely simmer- with the cover sort of half-on half-off – until you reach jam consistency which can be anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours. The jam should be thicker but not thick. If it’s thick while you’re cooking it, it will turn into candy in the jar. When the jam juice is clear and shiny and thicker, it’s done. Stir frequently so the jam doesn’t scorch. Ladle jam into clean jars. Stick in fridge. Enjoy!




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Heraclitus, my new favorite philosopher.

Heraclitus of Ephesus.

Heraclitus of Ephesus.

Good character is not formed in a week or a month. It is created little by little, day by day. Protracted and patient effort is need to develop good character.

Heraclitus of Ephesus, 535 B.C. – 475 B.C.

You could not step twice into the same river.

Heraclitus of Ephesus

He who does not expect will not find the unexpected.

Heraclitus of Ephesus

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What the Dog Saw…

You won’t believe me. I swear it. You will not believe what Jake and I encountered. We found this sitting on the sidewalk:

A Juvenile Peregrine Falcon.

A Juvenile Peregrine Falcon.

I thought it was an escaped chicken because we were just passing a house with a chicken coop.

So we’re walking and Jake and I see this big bird sitting on the sidewalk ahead of us. And the bird’s not moving. But its eyes are open and it’s watching us approach. And I’m thinking… That’s a funny looking chicken. And Jake’s thinking… I’ve never seen that before. He was fascinated but he didn’t chase it.

So the bird just sat there. Jake and I stopped a couple feet away and I realized what I was looking at, a juvenile peregrine falcon. And they are rare and endangered around here.

My heart started to pound. Never in all my life had I imagined I’d be standing next to a peregrine falcon. And that my dog would behave. If I hadn’t been so verklempt I would have thought to take a photo. Instead I started to remove my sweatshirt, preparing to wrap the bird and get him up off the ground so two cats, who had also noticed, wouldn’t injure him. But I thought better of that. Falcons do have dangerous talons. I let Jake scare off the cats. I did get my phone out of my back pocket, but instead of taking a photo, I called the police. The police were very nice and said they’d send out Animal Control right away.

So Jake and I sat down next to the bird to wait and watch. I had to resist my baser urges. I wanted to reach out and touch the falcon with every fiber in my being. That would be so unfair. He was obviously stunned and my touch would only add insult to injury.

So we waited. After five minutes or so he rose up on his feet and  gathered himself. He didn’t seem frightened in the least. He gave us a discerning look, studied us for a time. He seemed to realize we meant him no harm, nevertheless, he fluttered to the top of the nearby fence and stood there for several minutes. Then he fluttered into the closest tree, a maple, and managed to reach a branch about six feet off the ground. He sat there for a long time, but at last he made his way higher into the maple, fluttering from branch to branch. By the time Animal Control arrived twenty minutes later, the falcon had managed to make it halfway to the top of a neighboring redwood tree.

The Animal Control officer and I walked around to the front of the house, theorizing about what must have happened. The front of the house had a large set of extremely reflective windows. The reflection was of trees, not the interior of a house. We both bet the falcon hit a window, was stunned, but regained his wits and would be all right. The officer said he’d call the local raptor rescue organization anyway.

So, Jake and Julia get up close and personal with a peregrine. Yay! Now I want one of my own…

Oscar, can I have a peregrine?

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Beauty and the Feast.



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Right Here!

Eva Raines is an uncomplicated country girl who’s all about food. Eva moves to the Napa Valley where her culinary skills come to the attention of the owners of a start-up and Eva finds her niche as a personal chef. Now all she needs is a man as perfect as her cooking, but she has serious doubts such a creature exists.

When wealthy entrepreneur, winery owner, and noted lothario, Gabriel Abbott, makes plans to seduce his flavor of the month, his assistant hires All Things to All People to cater a gourmet dinner. Eva expects to use her way with food to showcase the startup. What she unexpectedly discovers is that her culinary skills showcase far more. Gabriel Abbott finds himself seduced by her voice and the sensual flavors and textures of her food and his previous plans are quickly forgotten. He begins to obsess about meeting his little chef in person.

He’s not alone. Once Eva hears Gabe’s voice and spends time in his home in the Napa Valley, she begins to wonder about the real man and her dreams of him are so hot they could ignite a barbecue.
When Eva and Gabe finally come face to face, the question is, how hot will their fire burn?

Beauty and the Feast is a fun book. And it’s incendiary. Go for it!

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