A friend of mine worked at "The Tree of Life" in Patagonia, Arizona, where they routinely reverse both type 1 and type 2 diabetes in just twenty one days through diet. "The Tree," as they all fondly refer to it is run by a medical doctor, Gabriel Cousens. Through reading his books, I have completely revolutionized the way that I look at food. Having seen a lot of suffering from diabetes in my family history, and striving to live my life without ever taking prescription drugs, I was naturally very interested in what Dr. Cousens has to share.
The diet at 'The Tree' is raw vegan and very low glycemic. So, when people first begin to reverse their disease, they are eating lots of fresh raw veggies, but no starchy ones. So, there are no raw sugar snap peas, green beans, carrots or beets. Nothing starchy, nothing sweet. Fruits are limited to just lemons and limes. It's intense and a huge change away from the foods that most of us are used to eating.
Everyone of us can fall into bad food habits. So much of what is readily available is not very good for us and is quite addicting: cookies, crackers, baguettes and cheese. Such a shame. But if we want to get well or give our health a boost, all of that has got to go. Disease or poor health can be a great motivator. Sometimes that's just what we need to get us to change.
So, I asked my friend what she typically ate for breakfast while she was working at 'The Tree,' and she said "Chia pudding, every morning." Chia seeds are one of those healthy super foods. The generic name for the plant that produces chia seeds is Salvia hispanica. It has also been known as, "The Aztec secret to health." Chia is a tough little annual plant and it is easy to grow almost anywhere. When the seed heads become mature in late summer, you can shake the fruiting stalk and collect spoonfuls of the tiny, dark seeds in the palm of your hand in just a few seconds. Frank and I grew some chia plants one year just outside our front gate and as we'd take off for a walk or a bike ride, we'd load up on the little seeds to enjoy while we were out and about. They are crunchy and have a nice nutty flavor.
Chia plants have no pests so they can easily be grown without pesticides and their seeds store well because they don't go rancid. The thin mucilaginous coating on chia seeds takes up water to form a little gel around each seed when it is moistened. This helps to gently sweep our colons clean while it passes through our bodies whenever we eat chia. Many who suffer from constipation find that if it is taken with lots of water, chia can quickly be very relieving. Chia is known to stabilize blood sugars, as well. Sometimes I just put a teaspoon or two of the seeds in the bottom of a dry quart jar, then I fill it up with water and shake it periodically for several minutes. The seeds swell and intersperse themselves evenly in the water and look a little like frog spawn. They are fairly tasteless in this form but a lot of fun to drink.
Spectacularly, chia is one of the highest omega-3 food plants known. Our bodies need omega-3 fatty acids in our diet in order to function. Chia has eight times more omega-3 than wild salmon and it doesn't contain any of the mercury or other fish toxins. (The plants grown at higher elevations have the highest levels of omega-3's.) Omega-3 oils are anti-inflammatory, so chia helps with arthritis, joint pain, ulcerative colitis and other inflammatory conditions.
Chia also helps to drop blood pressure levels, (typically ten points on the top, the systolic, and five points on the bottom, the diastolic blood pressure reading.) A diet rich with chia seeds also lowers cardiovascular disease by 37% because it lowers the C-reactive proteins (CRP,) a marker for inflammation in our blood. Chia, naturally high in ALA, Alpha Linoleic Acid, is known to lower the bad cholesterol, LDL, while it raises the good cholesterol, HCL. Isn't that great?
So, back to chia pudding. Chia pudding is a raw vegan low-glycemic dish that is remarkably simple to make. Soak about a cup of almonds in water overnight so they are nice and plump in the morning. Almonds are great, but almost any type of raw organic nuts will do. Rinse the nuts in the morning and put them in the blender or better yet in a Vitamix with enough water to make a milk like consistency, about one or two cups. Add five tablespoons of chia seeds and stir. You can also add some vanilla extract, maybe a teaspoonful, and some stevia, to taste, if desired. Let it sit for twenty minutes or so, stirring occasionally and "Voila!" You have a very nutritious, low glycemic, breakfast.
Another variation on this recipe is to use a can of organic coconut milk, instead of the almond milk. If you are really feeling decadent, you can add two tablespoons of cocoa powder for a chocolate chia pudding. Now, we are talking desert. And it's great. No sugar and absolutely delicious. Enjoy. I'm sure you will like it. It's wonderful.
© Josephine Laing, 2016