Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ginkgo Biloba

Last year when we went to Portugal we went to this town called Sintra that had a beautiful castle (at the top of VERY STEEP MOUNTAIN) and adjoining herb garden. I distinctly remember wandering through the garden and seeing a Ginkgo tree. I got so excited because I remembered learning about all the health benefits, interactions and side effects AND from time to time I currently prescribe Ginkgo to my patients. I took many pictures of this random tree and of course pictures of Chris rubbing his temples next to the tree, trying to increase his memory and cognitive function (well actually him making fun of me because of how excited I got about seeing this tree!)

Anyway I just read a very interesting fact about Ginkgo Biloba. It is an extremely hardy tree that is resistant to pollution and as a result is commonly found in major cities such as New York and Tokyo. So incredibly strong is Ginkgo, that one Ginkgo tree was the only tree to survive at the atomic blast at Hiroshima, Japan.

The original therapeutic focus of Ginkgo was on improving circulation to the legs and brain. Later, the neuroprotective effects of Ginkgo were recognized and it became useful for improving cognitive (brain) function in both healthy adults and the elderly. New research indicates that Ginkgo could be of benefit in a wide range of issues such as cardiovascular health, longevity, mood and stress, antioxidant support, eye health, and memory support.

It does thin the blood so one must be careful if taking aspirin or warfarin.

Great herb.Great herb.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Banana Ice Cream Pops

Although today is grey and rainy outside this recipe on a blog that I follow (Gluten-Free Goddess), caught my eye because of its simplicity. How great to make a few of these and have them in the freezer instead of those heavily artifically flavoured and sugar-laden popsicles or pops.

These pops are dairy-free! The recipe uses xantham gum which boosts viscosity and improves the texture of non-dairy ice cream. I prefer not using xantham gum and keeping the pops as simple and "clean" as possible and I used the vanilla rice milk but I'm sure the coconut milk would be divine.


1 1/2 cups frozen sliced bananas
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup ice cold vanilla rice milk or coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
(1/4 teaspoon xantham gum)

Combine all of the ingredients in a Vita-Mix or blender and whip until creamy smooth.

Spoon the banana mixture into six large frozen pop molds (or whatever Popsicle style molds you have on hand). Insert sticks. Freeze overnight for best results.

To remove a pop from the mold, run warm water over the mold to loosen the pop- or follow the mold manufacturer's gentle instructions.

Makes six large pops.

Smoked Mackerel Tortilla

Friday I was watching Chuck's Day Off, a show on the Food Network and was intrigued with a recipe for a tortilla - which is essentially a Spanish omelette that traditionally has potatoes and onions. I was also curious because it had smoked mackerel and I've always wanted to look into the health pros and cons of these tasty treat.

I know that mackerel, not smoked, is very healthy as it is a fantastic source of omega 3's. When I prescribe an omega 3 supplement to a patient or when I'm critiquing one I always look for one that is made with mackerel, sardine, and/or herring.

Smoked mackerel is another story. Smoking fish is a way to preserve fish and keep it as fresh as possible. Smoking fish does not have to be done, but many people like it for the unique flavor it gives fish. Smoked salmon and mackerel are two of the top purchased smoked fish in the country. Smoking fish started years ago when they would preserve the fish in winter to have over a long period of time. Native Americans also believed that if someone handled the salmon the wrong way, it would drive the salmon away from the waters and they would not be able to catch anymore. They would have it served only at their lavish festivals since it was such a delicacy to them. Salmon was highly respected by the Native Americans, Romans, and Greeks.

There are a variety of ways salmon can be smoked for example, cold-smoking and hot-smoking. Cold-smoking is cooked slowly for about 24 hours at a low temperature and hot-smoking is cooked at a hotter temperature for less time. Before starting either smoking technique the fish is cured with salt for minutes up to hours. This allows for the fish to let salt in and to kill bacteria while letting some moisture out. After curing the meat it will need to be rinsed off before the smoking process begins. Hot smoked fish can not be cut thin as it will fall apart and crumble.

Because of the smoking process the omega 3 content does decrease and there have been studies done that confirms the content of certain carcinogenic (cancer-causing) compounds after smoking fish. One time this was reported was in the September 2004 issue of the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture (vol. 84, no. 12,pp. 1545-1552(8)).

Consumption of smoked foods and similarly carcinogenic deli meats should be kept to a minimum. Nevertheless here is the recipe of Chuck's Mackerel Tortilla which was delicious and would be a great brunch entertaining centerpiece.


* 6 potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
* 1 ½ tablespoon olive oil (1 tablespoon for the onions and ½ for the tortilla assembly) (25 ml)
* 2 large onions, peeled, thinly sliced
* 4 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
* 9 eggs
* 1/4 cup 35% cream (65 ml)
* A pinch of coarse salt and cracked black pepper
* 3 small fillets of smoked mackerel, broken apart in chunks


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (177 C)
2. Place whole potatoes in saucepan of cold water. Bring to the boil, add a good pinch of salt and cook for about 12 minutes or until just tender. Drain, allow to cool completely and thinly slice.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 20cm non-stick (oven proof) frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook till soft and translucent. About 3- 5 minutes.
4. Add garlic and cook a further 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Continue cooking till onions become a little caramelized and are reduced to ¼ in volume. You don’t want to let anything get too brown. Remove from pan, set aside.
5. Prepare mackerel by peeling the skin off one side and breaking into smallish pieces with your hands.
6. Add the remaining oil to the pan and layer up potato slices, onions and mackerel chunks. Aim for at least 3 or 4 layers.
7. Whisk eggs, cream, salt and pepper in a bowl and pour over the potato, lifting the bottom a little to encourage even distribution. Let cook 2 minutes or so on the burner to get a nice base and start to cook the sides.
8. Place pan in the oven for 25-35 minutes or until browned and cooked through. When it’s ready the edges will be browning, and the top will be puffed up with no signs of runny egg.
9. Placing your serving platter on top, flip the tortilla over, and turn out onto a large round platter and slice into wedges.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

CFL and Moksha Yoga

As many of you know my sister Angela owns Moksha Yoga Edmonton (MYE) and Moksha Yoga South Edmonton (opens Monday!!! Yay Ang!!!) and is a fabulous yoga instructor. CTV recently did a story on how the Edmonton Eskimos are going to MYE for some tough love in the yoga studio.

Here's a clip of the piece that was recently posted by TSN. Ang is instructing the class. Way to make them sweat Ang!!!

http://www.tsn.ca/cfl/ - If you look to the right column, the story is called "Hitting the Mat".

If you've never tried Moksha I urge you to give it a try. I've been doing it since its 'birth' around 2004 and prior to that I was doing Bikram Yoga, which is also a yoga sequence done in the heat. It's improved my running, my overall health and energy, and most of all it has given me the gift of learning how to relax and finding calm in my hectic life. Namaste.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Every year I get the same questions right about now about sunscreens. More and more people are hearing about the chemicals in most sunscreens and are more reluctant to be applying them on themselves, AND even more so their kids.

My husband burns very quickly. He's like a beacon of red light after a short walk outside but has always been very good with applying sunscreen and wearing a hat. I don't burn too quickly but have noticed over the years that the sun is way more intense than it ever has been. I remember the good ole' days on the farm, hoeing the rows of tobacco in a bathing suit, no hat, no sunscreen, or sitting on the riding lawn mower, again with no sunscreen .... my how things have changed. I wish I knew back then what I know now about how dangerous the sun is (other than the vitamin D it supplies!) AND more importantly how it ages you!

Now with wrinkles slowly starting to appear my sun protection has increased dramatically. When I'm out for a run or if I'm golfing a hat and sunglasses are my best friends. Now is the time to take a look at your sun protection habits ... here are some quick tips courtesy of www.ewg.com :

Avoid these ingredients: Oxybenzone, Vitamin A, Added insect repellent
Look for these ingredients: Zinc, Titanium dioxide, Avobenzone or Mexoryl SX

Avoid these products: Sprays, Powders, SPF above 50+
Look for these products: Cream, Broad spectrum protection, Water resistant for beach, pool & exercise, SPF 30+ for beach & pool

Look for more information on these tips in the Zawada Health June newsletter which will be posted on the website (www.zawadahealth.com) later this afternoon!