Delicious Zensations

Awareness of the Self

 

For many of us, it is difficult to differentiate between our opinions and beliefs and birdladywhat we have been told that we should like and admire. It is even hard to realize that our thoughts and opinions may not be ours. We may think that we are how we want to be and that what we like is inherently the best. But, think about fashion for example. What we see as beautiful today was considered horrid a few years ago, and what was thought to be right be last century is totally out of our mind today.

 

That is just a very simplistic example, but it illustrates my point. We are somehow preprogrammed to like or dislike, and not just with fashion, as in the previous example; but, with a myriad aspects of life, such as religion, vocations, friends and many other likes and dislikes form our everyday life. Living in society influences us and changes the way we process thoughts and live our lives. Living in society influences the way we process thoughts

As humans, we are conditioned or preprogrammed by nature to seek acceptance by our group and to minimize unessential efforts. Our instincts are telling us that we may need that energy later. So we go with the flow, we make our life easier by doing as others do and by making others’ ideas our own.

Ideas, communication patterns, relationships, and even expectations are changing really fast nowadays. After years of submitting to group norms, being told to follow, what to buy, how to dress and what to eat, now we are told that different is good. We hear more and more that we don’t have to be like the rest, that we can take responsibility for our lives and make them better.

We are told to be ourselves, but what does that mean? Aren’t we ourselves? Well, the way it turns out oftentimes we are not. A big part of us is the product of our upbringing and our environment. We are influenced by our parents, education and society and it takes awareness and work to differentiate ourselves from all that.

In a previous post http://pacawellness.com/2014/06/25/remembering-to-forget/ I mentioned how we develop through our parent and elder’s influence from the time that we are born. At the time of birth we don’t have concepts or opinions, so we get them from our elders. That is actually a great way to start our lives, as we can spend most of our time exploring the world and learning many other things; our basic likes and dislikes are already cared for. It also adds to familial ties, we spend our early lives agreeing with our parents and siblings for the most part.

As infants we came in to this world with a very plastic brain, capable of recording even the most minute details, and to remember readily. We were potty trained, learn to walk, talk and eventually read and write, because the brain is primed to do this, really receptive and ready to store information.

In fact, we remember a lot from our childhood. We remember how to walk, talk and the social mores that we received. We have a harder time remembering explicit conscious memories than those that become a habit. The ones that go directly into our subconscious to be stored as automatic behavior, such as walking or using utensils to eat. At some point out limbic system gets a spurt of growth, and the memories stay, but they are somehow “misplaced”. Even though we remember the message we don’t remember the instance in which we acquired the knowledge.

Not many people remember being born, learning how to walk or even how to talk. It is all stored somewhere in the brain, as for the most part it is not needed. It may have been an evolutionary advantage to be able to forget some of those events, I really don’t know, but nature usually doesn’t work unless there are advantages to the changes. http://www.nbcnews.com/health/body-odd/brain-overload-explains-missing-childhood-memories-f6C10070729

Today’s adults having children are much more aware of the receptivity of children, the plasticity of their brains and how they change as they become adults, even though it is not totally clear why and how it occurs. Many 21st century parents are much more careful in how they refer to their children, what they condition them with and how education is influencing their child. They can help guide their children into their own minds, directing them to a higher consciousness. Many children nowadays are more aware, partly due to their parents and partly due to media; the options are endless in the world of Internet.

As children are naturally curious, they develop new ways of looking at things, evolving into beings that can make choices for themselves. Emotional and mindful evolution is a great thing for new generations.

Some of us are already grown up and are finding this awareness at a later date. We find out that much of what we were told was wrong, that we have been conditioned with bad habits, and fears stuck in our minds. Most of all, we have opinions about everything, that we might have never bothered reconsidering, as we assumed that they were ours. Regardless of what we learned as children, we keep on being influenced by society’s rules through our entire life.

But as time goes by, we are evolving and we are looking at things in different ways. Self-awareness is beautiful, a great personal discovery. It allows oneself to be the director of one’s own life, being in charge of our decisions, allowing us to think with less prejudice and fewer preconceived ideas. But it is also a lot of responsibility. When we discover our new found awareness, and our true self, we realize that we are in charge of our lives. Awareness comes with responsibility for oneself and others.

Through awareness we may realize that when we were nervous and there was nothing we could do about it, it might have just been an erroneous belief. We can see that we are really a lot more open to new foods than we thought we were. We can even realize that a bad moment doesn’t make for a bad day and that we are in charge of our emotions, we can be happy or sad, it is up to us.

Being conscious brings us the awareness that it is not the world happening to us, but us happening to the world. We don’t have excuses any more for bad moods or bad days or mishaps. We are in charge of the good times and the bad times.

The discovery that we have a lot more to say in our own life is very relieving, but at the same time is hard to assume that we are in charge. Being in charge of our lives makes us responsible for what happens to us. We don’t have anyone else to blame for shortcomings (what went wrong) and that can be hard.

The fact that no one is to blame means that we did it, and that we have to suffer the consequences. On the other hand, it also means that if we did it wrong we can do it right as well. Once we recognize that we are responsible we can try as many times as it will take to do it right. It also means that, when we do it right, it is us that made it happen, no one else can take the credit for our success.

Now we are aware, but changing habits is not that easy. The old time saying that “the truth will set you free” rings true in this instance, and acquiring awareness is a fabulous accomplishment, but it is only half of the work, “knowing is half the battle.”

One can take responsibility for oneself and make an effort to understand that most everything is an opinion and that very few things are set in stone.

Most important is to see life with different eyes, doing things in a different way, just to force oneself to see the other side of things. This can be as simple as eating with the non-dominant hand, changing the morning routine or the route taken to go home at night. This will challenge the brain and keep it alert, ready to perceive changes in the outside world and in our inner personal space.

One can challenge oneself and start a journal and look for patterns in behavior, analyzing what triggers moods and emotions. Highlight what went right. Consider how things may have turned out if you behaved differently. This may help you realize why you act the way you do.

Realizing that we can all be right although disagreeing, that we may be all looking at the same “truth” from different angles, and that reality is constructed based on personal experiences will help us realize that we can control our thoughts, our actions and ultimately our lives.

 

 

 

The Best Adventure

This is an adventure, the best adventure that anybody can imagine. I have had the opportunity to meet incredible people through my writing and exposure to social media.untidy desk

I have been writing on and off now for almost two years, something I never thought I would be able to do. I feel accomplished.

I have learned to relate to myself and to others in a different way. I have been using my intuition to be able to gauge where people are coming from and what they have to tell me, what can I learn from them. I am now able to express myself and I feel that I can inspire others through the written word. I sense myself maturing.

Gazing inside and being able to bring it all out, what is important, what is worth looking at, for the lessons and the messages. I have been able to strip myself of the drama and look at things for what they were, how they are. Being able to learn from my experiences is priceless.

It all started as a challenge. I wanted more from life and I had not been able to get it. I realized that I was too much in my head; I was over thinking it all. I decided to start a journal and let it develop. It was magical; I was able to see myself in perspective.

I had seen my heart crack, so many times, and I didn’t know what to do with it, so I had put it away. I am not someone to gloat in pain and misery, so I decided to forget about it. But I was not forgetting, I was just keeping it inside, hiding it from myself and others. For years, and more so after this entire ordeal started, I had been stressed and sad. Keeping a smile on my face and what I thought was a good attitude, but really undermining myself and my relationships. I was not able to channel my emotions, to let them flow. All the meditation in the world could not help me, as I could not open up and relax; I had refused to understand myself.

I had not allowed myself to really look in to the pain, in to the sorrow, the feeling of loss. I was sour for what had happened even though I had been trying to make the best of it. But writing brought to me the tool that I needed to recognize my feelings for what they were.

To start with writing was hard, painful. Too many things were coming out, things that I didn’t want to look at, things that had been hiding in the deepest corners of myself, my whole entire life. My insecurities, fears and shortcomings; my veiled anger, my self-numbing and sarcasm, where all in the white canvas. And I didn’t like it. I didn’t like what I saw. It was too raw. How was I to reveal myself like that, how was I to share all those feelings. They made me look bad, even to myself. I would get tears in my eyes and shaky hands, and I had to stop writing for a while and go take a walk, or leave it till the next day.

Although it was painful it was also liberating. I didn’t know why, but it was. To begin with, I though that may be I was being a masochist. All that pain for what? Nevertheless I wrote for moths, just pouring it all out. Somehow, even blind, I was getting something out of it.

After a while the writing tamed, I calmed down and my spirit started to find peace. I was finally able to write about my life and experiences. The truth, the real me was coming out. The drama had stayed behind, had been worn by the pressure of the pen over the paper. I was starting to understand myself. It was not so much that I was a better writer, but that I was a better person to myself. I was beginning to understand who I am, and what I am doing in this world.

Was it the writing? The way I see it, writing was a discipline that allowed my to look inside and look hard. It allowed my to see myself from an outsider’s point of view. It allowed me to pour my soul out and then go and revisit what I wrote, to organize my thoughts and review them.

Through all this process I was able to discover the real me, the one that suffered, but also the one that brought me to that suffering. Ultimately, it brought to light the woman that wants to live, leaving behind the pitiful survivor, that was always too concerned about fear to be able to live, and too scared to live to be able to thrive.

I don’t know that writing a blog is for everyone, that is a very personal decision, and we all have different paths. But writing, putting down on paper what is going on in your life, whether you want to journal for later review, or just scraping to be able to clarify your head, is a great discipline. It will bring light to your thoughts and to your mind. By putting your worries in a peace of paper or in a computer file, you will be able to hear yourself in the privacy of your own notebook, and you will be telling your brain that all the information is safely stored, so you won’t have to remember it any longer, or worry about it again.

For me, publishing was the thing to do. I have always been a reader, and have admired others’ recollections and exposure of their thoughts. Once I found myself, and found my story on the paper, I realized that I wanted to share my experience. Not the grueling moments or the despair, but the experience of living through hard times and overcoming, the lessons and understanding that this life circumstances brought to me. Above all, it brought me the sense of being alive, not just a survivor.

The truth is that I add garlic to most everything nowadays. I eat it roasted, sautéed, boiled, fermented and DSCN1425raw. I just love garlic. It is a wonderful, aromatic bulb with great culinary and medicinal value.

Garlic is loaded with phyto-nutrients that have proven benefits against cancer. One interesting fact about garlic is that its healing power is enhanced after it has been crushed, and it will increase further when left to sit for a few minutes before cooking or added to dressings. It takes some time its compounds to become allicin, a nutrient proven to reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure. Garlic is rich in potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and selenium, as well as vitamin C and B6.

The regular consumption of garlic can help cell metabolism and organ health. It is also cardio protective, vasodilator and a great anti-inflammatory. Garlic is antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal. It is an apothecary in delicious packaging.

This fabulous bulb can be used to prepare most every meal; in fact, it is present in the majority of cuisines in the world.

I love to add garlic to my stews and soups. The flavor and aroma of garlic really enhances breads and sauces. Roasted garlic is a great compliment to grilled meats and vegetables and I really enjoy it in my salads.

Since we are going towards the heat of the summer I would like to once again share a salad with you, in which I use raw and sautéed garlic to mix the caramelized and pungent flavors and complement the mixed greens and meats.

 

Warm brussel sprouts and buffalo ribeye salad

1 ½ cups of brussel sprouts (chopped)

1 cup lettuce (chopped)

½ cup arugula

½ cup dandelion (chopped)

½ cup of onion (sliced)

4 oz ribeye buffalo steak (buffalo can be substituted with beef)

2 tbsp coconut oil

2 tbsp olive oil

4-6 garlic cloves (chopped)

2 tsp rosemary (chopped)

1 tsp cilantro (chopped)

Salt to taste

 

-Preparation

Steam the brussel sprouts and set aside

Cook the steak to your desired temperature in a pan (or grill, if you prefer), with the coconut oil. Set aside.

Place the onion and half of the garlic cloves in the same pan that you cooked the steak. Cook at a low temperature. Once the onion and garlic are lightly brown, add the steamed brussel sprouts and turn for a few of minutes, just enough for the vegetables to get the garlic and onion oil through it.

In a salad bowl, place the lettuce, arugula and dandelion, add the steak, brussel sprouts, onion and garlic, still hot from the pan.

-Dressing

Mix garlic, cilantro, rosemary and olive oil in a mortar and crush it together. Adding coarse salt helps the process, just as much as you would like for your salad. Once all the dressing ingredients are processed to the desired consistency, add to the salad bowl.

Your warm salad is ready to be served

Remembering to Forget

Many of us grew up with misconceptions and misunderstandings that led to confusion and a lack of childgraffiticlarity concerning our values.

Our parents didn’t know better; they gave us the best they could.

They educated us with the tools that they knew, tools that they believed would make for success; the very same tools that their parents used with them. History repeats itself. They told us not to lie, to be honest and caring and that hard work pays. Their goal was for us to be part of a society in which they believed; they wanted us to be successful.

Parental education is a precious gift, one of selfless dedication in the best cases, and something for which to be grateful.
However, it was not necessarily the most efficient or accurate education. They taught us to conform to a society that had passed; they educated us to live in their world.

They also passed on to us their fears, traumas and shortcomings. They unconsciously passed the buck. Many people have to recover from childhood, no matter how loving their parents.

Our upbringing is greatly influenced by matrilineal teaching, in which the mother, grandmother, great grandmother and so on, teaches the newest generation the family’s values, mores, and folklore goes back to the beginning of time.

Very little has changed in the way that children were educated, and although some families are more liberal, and some are more totalitarian, people fall into the same familial patterns.

Part of the issue is a lack of knowledge and understanding of thehuman brain.

From birth until we are about 14 years old, but particularly till the age of 7 or 8, our brains are very impressionable. As infants, humans believe everything that they are told, and do not have a critical mind.

The brain at the time of birth is a clean slate that will have to be populated with ideas and opinions as the child develops. Children will start forming their own opinions at the age of 8, but the beliefs that were planted on their brains from the time of birth, may remain with them for their entire lifetime.

In the preverbal child, communication occurs through words, emotional tone, and actions. These important early impressions can remain as law in the ‘child mind’ for a lifetime and become the base of one’s own critical thinking skills’ foundation.

Infants and children use their elders as egos; believing whatever the elders say or do is the truth, and this trait remains until critical thinking develops. They perceive adults as authority figures that will give clues about feelings, thoughts, and survival techniques.

If one has supportive parents that freely offer praise one grows up to be confident. Inversely, if one’s parents push for better behaviors and actions, one may grow up to be a perfectionist. If a child is constantly told how disappointing, lonely, and sad life is, the child will perceive life as an empty, disappointing experience.

Previous generations of parents and educators had no idea about the brain’s inner workings, and they had little concern for children’s emotional and spiritual intelligence. It was understood that children learn more quickly than adults, and education was focused on practical knowledge. No concern was given to the development of emotional or spiritual intelligence, children were considered to either “have it or not”

Some people were born with a star, with charisma or with a cloud over their heads. Some people were judged to be “happy go lucky” or “jinxed”. But nobody is born that way. We are all a product of our environment, the family we were born in to and the teachers and peers we had. How our experiences developed and how we were encouraged or discouraged to go through life.

We may think that much of what we do is natural or intuitive, and some is, but much of what we “just know” comes from what we have seen others doing. From eating certain foods, to political and social opinions as well as religion and personal likes, all of is acquired knowledge, nurtured as opposed to natural or inherited. We may just think that we are “a nervous person” or “good at math”. There maybe some genetic background in all this, but scientists are finding out that much of our beliefs about the world and about ourselves are learned from others, and we spend a lifetime reinforcing those believes until they become our reality. Immovable truth. We also learn fear and anxiety, which again maybe useful, but in many cases we learn to just be afraid. What is fear any way? Is fear worth our time? Can we differentiate between being respectful and aware of danger, being cautious and being concerned, too concerned, to the point that we are afraid all the time?

As we are seeing we learn many useful things that help us live in this world. But we also learn a lot of bad habits, we learn about other’s traumas and misunderstandings, making them our own. We are led to believe that that is the way to live, the way to behave. As we don’t have a recollection of when we learned it or from whom, we turn learned opinions in to deep beliefs. This can be very distracting and damaging to relationships with ourselves and others.

We may not like some people just because our parents, teachers or childhood friends were wary of them, or because they were raised under circumstances that warranted ignorance about circumstances or groups of people.

What do we do with all this? How do we differentiate between what is really helpful to us and what is just boycotting and undermining our possibilities? Is all this saving us from danger or actually stopping us from being successful? Can we still aspire to have happy and fulfilling relationships?

Looking at our emotions helps.Untitled 2

Following our instincts may bring some light in to this chaos. Modern men and women are so out of touch with their bodies and their true selves, often assuming that their thoughts are Truth. In many instances Ideology, religion nationality, or majority rule has replaced individual thought.

We are constantly evolving and what was good yesterday may not be good today. Our environment has changed and we, as society, are developing through science and experience, we move forward. We are evolving in our society and our values, indeed, in the evolution of our minds.

We are coming to the awareness of how important it is to give children respect and a fair chance, to protect them and allow them to thrive. Children need to learn about love and awareness. There is no need to sacrifice practical living skills for the development of a child into a whole human being.

We are learning that stable, confident, loving people will be very successful in most areas of their life. This is evidence of the learning evolution.

But what do we do with all the beliefs that we have, that could be shortchanging us in life?

We can learn to forget. We can remember to forget and get over ourselves. Most of our deep-rooted beliefs are directly attached to our egos.

By personal experience I am learning that is mostly wrong to try to be right. Everyone is right in the sense that one can be right while otherswith a different opinion can be right as well.

The understanding that nothing is written in stone, that all is an opinion lead one to see things more clearly, finding deep truth in Self and Other.

Leniency, loving actions and compassion wins the day.

A wondrous herb, it has been used for centuries for medicinal and culinary purposes.rosemarysalad

It is useful for stimulating the immune system, increasing circulation, and improving digestion, used to garnish lamb and other red meats. Rosemary helps relief gall bladder and liver congestion, increases the appetite and counteracts the damage done by meat charring in our health, by removing the carcinogenic substances produced by cooking the meat at high temperature. It is great to add in to all your dishes whenever you barbequed, so popular in the summer. It is also used to prevent gout, high blood pressure and aids headache relief.

Rosemary is delicious in salads and meat dishes alike; it has a very unique pine-like fragrance that mixes with other aromas, while savoring your dish. It also helps remove the greasy feeling after a heavy meal.

I love to add it to my stews, it makes them lighter to digest, and it is great aid in my salads in the summer. Today I like to share with you a great salad, easy to make, very nutritious and healthy, boosted with rosemary to make sure that the meat I eat is as healthy as it can be. The sweetness of the chicken and the bitterness of the greens mix wonderfully with the Rosemary, you may want to give it a try.

Endive and chicken salad with rosemary

1-2 grilled chicken thigh

1 cup endive (chopped)

4-5 dandelion leaves (chopped)

1 cup orange-fleshed sweet potato (cubed small)

1 tsp parsley (chopped)

2 tsp rosemary (chopped)

2 cloves of garlic

2 tbsp olive oil

 

Place greens, sweet potato and chicken in a salad bowl. Mix garlic, parsley, rosemary and olive oil in a mortar and crush it together. Adding coarse salt helps the process, just as much as you would like for your salad. Once all the dressing ingredients are processed to the desired consistency , add to the salad bowl as dressing. Mix it well. Your deliciously aromatic salad can be served

Meditating

What is meditation? mindchristiana
It seems as if everybody talks about it. It seems boring, difficult, and yet fashionable. Even doctors practice it and recommend it.

What is the big deal about meditation? Why is it so good for you? What benefits does it have for one’s health and mind?
Meditation originated as chanting practice in prehistoric communities, where it evolved into Taoism in China and Buddhism in India. It has been practiced for centuries.

The Western world’s interest in Eastern culture began long ago. In the U.S., interest started in the late 1880s and has peaked since the 1960s

Differing schools of thought and spiritual practices have specific patterns. All meditation has the same purpose: to quieten the critical mind and allow for contemplation.

The critical mind is present in our lives at most of the time, although it is not in control at all times. It helps us make decisions, is opinionated, and tries to solve our problems with repetitive thinking. The critical mind is our conscious mind, known in Buddhism as the Monkey Mind.
The chatty part of our brain, the conscious, is constantly talking to us, justifying likes or dislikes, judging ourselves’ and others’ behaviors, etc. We strive to keep in it check, but we have a hard time doing so.

Like everything the critical mind has good and bad attributes.

The critical mind keeps us out of trouble, it warns us of bad deals, and helps us realize that it is a beautiful day.

But then again, the critical mind makes us worry even when things are going well.
It is fixated on what we did in the past and what will happen in the future. It is analytical, critiquing today’s actions and trying to avoid tomorrow’s mistakes. All this is useful only to a point. If left unchecked it may cause guilt feelings and anxiety.

Meditation is about setting the critical mind aside and allowing for communication with one’s subconscious mind.

Our subconscious mind is uncritical and accepting. Its function is the storing of memories and emotions, some of which are never noticed at the time of an experience. The subconscious mind holds the records of all our experiences.

The subconscious mind can hold information about the origin of dislikes, fears, and phobias of which a person is completely unaware.
The subconscious mind is reactive and may respond to a current event as if a past painful event were happening again now. This can be baffling to one’s self and others.

Bringing awareness of these patterns into our conscious mind can help determine how to respond in the present moment.

Sometimes a song, a scent, or a flavor in the present moment will bring up a past memory, mentally returning one to a long forgotten time whether happy, sad or terrifying.

It is the subconscious at work when we like someone implicitly despite the fact that we just met them, or having an innocuous event leave us afraid or mad, to the surprise of ourselves and others; leaving us to wonder “What just happened?”

We have been taught to think that there is not much that we can do to control our thoughts or moods. Those teachings are wrong.

We are in control once we know how to observe our thoughts in meditation. Meditation forces our critical mind to be quiet and gives us access to our subconscious mind.

With practice we access our super ego and may reach Prana (Nirvana for the Eastern Culture) where the subject acquires total peacefulness, utter bliss and complete consciousness.

Some consider this state as being connected to the consciousness of all beings that have ever lived. This state takes years of practice but it is not essential in receiving meditation’s many benefits.

Just quieting the mind gives the brain and the body a rest; lowering heart rate, improving breathing, and providing calmness.
It is fabulous to leave worry behind and to understand the real origin of our troubles. The subconscious mind has a chance to “speak freely” giving us amazing insights on what has been in our heads for weeks, months and even years.

There are many techniques and schools of meditation, from guided meditation to transcendental meditation. http://www.iam-u.org/index.php/8-basic-kinds-of-meditation-and-why-you-should-meditate-on-your-heart
Depending on commitment and experience they will work differently for you. You may want to begin with guided mediations. There are plenty of them available on an Internet search.
Here are a few from UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. http://marc.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=22.
It may be a good practice to start “flying solo” after a while. Here is a simple exercise to help your mind relax and clear:

-Close your eyes and see yourself in your mind at home. Grab a wet rug from your sink and clean your whole house (you are clearing and cleaning your body).Take as long as you like, noticing how much debris you are picking up. Be thorough. When you are done, go back to the sink and rinse the rug (cleaning and clearing your mind) until the water comes out clear. When you are satisfied with how clean the rug is, ring it and leave it by the sink.

Step back and concentrate your attention on the clean rug , noticing your breathing. Keep your attention on the rug as long as you can. Keep on noticing your breathing; just observing it.

You can help concentration by counting your breaths from ten to one and starting again once you reach the number one.
Keep your head clear from thought as much as possible. Allow thoughts to come, observe them, and then let them go. They are like clouds in the sky—they come and go.

Your critical mind will send thoughts, reminding you of all the things you have to do, or haven’t done. Don’t worry; this is normal.
Acknowledge the thought; thank your mind for watching out for you, and go back to your breathing. Stay with it as long as it is comfortable. When you get tired it is time to do something else and go on with your day.

Go back to meditation next time you have an opportunity. First thing in the morning or right before bed is great time for meditationas the body is relaxed and inactive.

It may be boring or difficult in the beginning, but the more you practice, the more you will like it. With regular practice you will notice lower stress, better moods and improved health.

Sauerkraut combines the high nutrition benefits offered by all cruciferous vegetables, which include DSCN1225cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts and several others, with the medicinal effects of probiotic bacteria, which is a natural consequence of culturing foods.

Cabbage offers multiple health benefits. It is high in vitamins A and C, it is a rich source of phytonutrients and antioxidants. In addition, it has anti-inflammatory properties, and as some studies indicate, it may help combat some cancers. Sulfur contained in these vegetables has been found to help liver function, detoxification of cancerous compounds and help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration.

Sauerkraut is a source of a wide range of beneficial live bacteria, which assist in the digestive process and keeps the immune system alive and balanced. Eating sauerkraut regularly can give our body as much of a health boost as many of the expensive probiotic drinks and supplements sold in stores. Sauerkraut is prepared through a bacterial fermentation process, the same bacteria that our gut loves. It has the added benefit of being a prebiotic, food for intestinal bacteria or probiotic. Cabbage has the fiber that beneficial bacteria need to grow and proliferate in our intestine. We actually have about 10 trillion bacteria in our gut that needs to be fed and cared for. We have more bacteria in our guts than cells in our body. The healthier the bacteria are, the healthier we are, as our immune system and digestion depends directly on it.

Probiotic bacteria are capable of keeping other damaging bacteria, molds and yeast in check. Our bodies stay healthier, having to fight fewer illnesses, such as colds, sinus and mouth infections. Additionally, Finnish researchers reported that in laboratory studies, a substance produced by fermented cabbage, isothiocyanates, helped prevent the growth of cancer.

Making your own sauerkraut is optimal, but if you are not there yet, or you need kitchen help once in a while, make sure that the preserve that you buy is sold in a glass or plastic container and raw, so it maintains all its beneficial bacteria.

I love sauerkraut, and I am always finding ways of incorporating it to my diet. This time of year, with the heat, salads are always appealing, and this recipe is really easy to put together for a light and cool summer dinner main or side dish. Enjoy

Sauerkraut and avocado salad (1 serving)

1 cup of sauerkraut

1 cup of baked butternut squash (diced)

1 avocado (diced)

1 clover of garlic (minced) –Black garlic gives it an additional nutty aroma

½ tbsp of olive oil

Salt to taste

Mix all the ingredients in a salad bowl. Best served chilled

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