Archive | June 2013

Savasana By The Sea…!

Om Shanti Veda Healthies, 

Check out this wonderful opportunity for a Yoga Retreat by the Sea hosted by my friend and fellow Yoga instructor Shelley Fisher! What a beautiful way to find some inner peace and attune with nature. If you’re seeking balance or centering then this may be just what you need. Thanks for passing this along, Shelley!



Savasana by sea 1savasana sea 2

Registration for Holistic Cooking*

Good Morning Healthies,

I’m so happy that so many of you have been interested in my upcoming Holistic cooking class! Space is filling up, so please take a moment and call 215-968-2800 x239 to register. Feel free to contact me with any questions. 

Have a beautiful weekend filled with healthy choices!



holistic cooking newtown july 2013

The Truth About Natural Toothpaste…

Good Morning Veda Healthies!
Here is an intro article on how many ingredients in even “natural” toothpastes can be harmful to our health. The author points out some oral care suggestions and the caveats they might have. Hope you enjoy the info!

The Truth About Natural Toothpaste

What you should know about toothpaste ingredients and our top natural paste picks.

By Julie Gerstein

You brush your teeth every day, so shouldn’t you think about what you’re putting on your pearly whites?

A simple perusal of the ingredients list of a tube of commercial toothpaste can yield a laundry list of chemicals, additives, detergents and (shock!) sweeteners. That’s why we decided to try out some natural pastes and put them to the test.

Typical toothpastes can contain some harsh abrasives and chemicals. Among the worst ingredients to watch out for — propylene glycol — a solvent that is the active component in some anti-freezes, and is used in everything from makeup to mouthwash. Fluoride is also a questionable ingredient for some – it’s used in commercial toothpastes to strengthen enamel, and many dentists recommend using a fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride is considered toxic when ingested in high levels and is a controversial additive in water. Accidentally ingesting high quantities of toothpaste — as children sometimes do — can be potentially toxic.

It’s important to note that just because a product is sold at a natural foods store, it doesn’t mean that its ingredients are all natural. In many of the “natural” toothpastes we tried, we found not-so-natural ingredients. Nearly all of the ones we reviewed contained sodium lauryl sulfate, a cleansing agent that creates lather. While not considered toxic, it’s known to cause microscopic tears in mouths that can lead to canker sores. Sodium lauryl sulfate can be made from natural ingredients, like coconut oil or palm kernel oil. But while it might be “natural” it may still be irritating to the skin and body. That’s why you should check the ingredients on the box before purchasing.

Here are our picks for the best toothpastes, based on the taste, feel and ingredients of a few of the most widely available natural brands.

Best Natural Toothpastes

Dr. Ken’s All Natural Maximum Care in cinnamon scored high marks for flavor. “It has a fresh, natural cinnamon taste that’s not overwhelming or sugary,” said our tester. The toothpaste contains green tea extract to fight bacteria and bad breath; papaya plant extract to whiten teeth; and zinc oxide and citric acid to fight tarter. We tested one with fluoride, however Dr. Ken’s does come in fluoride-free varieties.

Kiss My Face Triple Action Whitening aloe vera gel is fluoride- and sodium lauryl sulfate-free (though it does contain sodium lauroyl sarcosinate, a cleanser that’s considered milder than sodium lauryl sulfate). Its minty-fresh flavor approximated conventional toothpaste brands, but has purportedly natural ingredients. Plus, it’s not tested on animals, and contains no animal-derived ingredients.

Tom’s of Maine also scored high — our reviewer gave it a 10 for its “classic” flavor. Plus, Tom’s takes pains to disclose all of its ingredients and where they come from. This paste does include “naturally sourced” fluoride.

Auremere Ayurvedic Herbal Toothpaste got high marks for flavor and is also free of fluoride, gluten, bleaches, artificial sweeteners, dyes, animal-derived ingredients and artificial preservatives. Instead, it uses Peelu, a natural tooth whitening fiber. Our reviewer noted it had a “licorice” flavor.

The Natural Dentist Peppermint Twist Whitening Toothpaste has an appealingly mild minty flavor. While it has fluoride for fighting cavities, it doesn’t have sodium lauryl sulfate and it isn’t tested on animals. Our tests had this note of caution: Don’t choose this tube if you prefer gels over pastes, because it is a bit pasty.

The Rest of the Paste Pack

Tea Tree Therapy Toothpaste with Baking Soda uses tea tree oil to clean and refresh. However, this brand also contains titanium dioxide, a natural ore that Canadian researchers say is “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

Ayurvedic paste Vicco, an herbal toothpaste with licorice root, Indian almond, and clove, peppermint and eucalyptus oils, is a great alternative to typical toothpastes. Our reviewer found the paste had “a mild flavor and a somewhat chalky texture.”

Dessert Essence Natural Tea Tree Oil Toothpaste received middling marks on flavor, but high ratings because it contains no harsh abrasives, synthetic sweeteners, or artificial flavors (though it does contain sodium lauryl sulfate) — and it’s fluoride-free. Tea tree oil is said to have antibacterial properties, and therefore great for promoting fresh breath.

Weleda’s Salt Toothpaste uses sea salt and baking soda to reduce tartar buildup, and myrrh extract to promote healthy gums. It also comes in Calendula and Ratanhia flavors.

J/A/S/O/N Sea Fresh toothpaste “closely resembled conventional brands,” according to our tester but is fluoride-free. It also contains CoQ10 for gum support and active blue-green algae and sea salts for dental health.

J/A/S/O/N Citrus Mint won points for its “very pleasing, mildly sweet citrus flavor,” according to our tester, which it gets from a blend of orange and peppermint oils. It’s also fluoride- and sulfate-free, and contains grapefruit seed extract, which helps block sugar acids.

Read more: Best Natural Toothpaste – Toothpaste Ingredients – The Daily Green
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Top ten healthy reasons to eat chocolate!


Well folks, today’s fun healthy post involves a subject I know to be near and dear to many of your hearts, CHOCOLATE! Although chocolate is not specifically recommended by Ayurvedic practitioners, the health benefits of natural, pure coco bean are acknowledged. But, skip the fatty, sugary, processed bars and instead try organic, dark chocolate coco powder or pure beans in moderation to reap its benefits.      Vegan chocolate pudding recipe to follow this week! 


Top ten healthy reasons to eat chocolate

by Carolanne Wright

NaturalNews) Good news for all you chocolate lovers out there, new research has found this divine food has even more health boosting advantages than previously recognized. Not only does it enhance both cardiovascular and mental well-being, but it also lowers body mass index (BMI) and insulin resistance. However, before consuming chocolate with wild abandon, it’s important to discern between the different varieties – and choose only superfood grades for ultimate benefit.


Food of the gods (and mere mortals too)

Relished for over 3,000 years, chocolate (also known as cacao in its purest form) has been used as a potent tonic, aphrodisiac and mighty food across cultures and continents. The ancient Aztecs raised cacao worship to new levels, reserving it for royalty and specific ceremonies. Europeans stumbled upon the delights of this strange ‘almond’ while exploring the New World and quickly adopted it as a remedy for fevers, mental fatigue, tuberculosis, poor digestion and gout. Fast forward to the present day and modern research has uncovered still more health enhancing features of this magical bean.

Live your bliss with chocolate

Containing a cornucopia of beneficial compounds, cacao has been shown to alleviate a wide-range of health complaints. But to reap the benefits, only high quality chocolate will do. Focus on raw, organic, dark cacao. And remember, the higher the percentage of chocolate, the lower the sugar. Below are some of the perks associated with this tasty superfood.

Cardiovascular – Of all the known edibles, cacao ranks the highest in beneficial antioxidant polyphenols that curb heart disease. A study at the University of California Department of Nutrition in Davis demonstrated the superior properties of a cacao rich beverage on platelet aggregation, thereby curbing heart harming blood clots. Even moderate consumption of cacao can reduce stroke risk and blood pressure while lowering cholesterol.

Brain – A wealth of mood-modifying elements, cacao has a positive effect on the mind. Theobromine, phenethylamine (PEA) and anandamide present within chocolate stimulate the central nervous system while promoting positive, clear, and some claim, blissful mental states. Cacao also encourages production of the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin which soothes depression, anxiety and irritability.

Diabetes prevention – A small Italian study at the University of L’Aquilia discovered that participants who consumed the equivalent of a candy bar’s worth of dark chocolate over the course of 15 days reduced insulin resistance by almost half. According to lead researcher Claudio Ferri, M.D., “Flavonoids increase nitric oxide production. And that helps control insulin sensitivity.”

Stress reduction – As reported in Women’s Health Magazine, “Swiss scientists (who else?) found that when very anxious people ate an ounce and a half of dark chocolate every day for two weeks, their stress hormone levels were significantly reduced and the metabolic effects of stress were partially mitigated.”

Sun protection – Rich in skin protecting flavonols, dark chocolate is a smart choice. British researchers discovered that participants who consumed nutrient dense cacao over the span of three months had significant reduction in the speed of developing sunburns.

Lower BMI – Research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine revealed that out of 1,000 Californians between the ages of 20 and 85, those who consumed chocolate on a regular basis had lower body mass index ratings. Dr. David Katz of Yale University remarks in the Huffington Post, “antioxidants might play a role in reducing inflammation, and that dark chocolate in particular might help balance the hormones that facilitate weight control.”

Looking for more benefits? Cacao also boosts cognitive ability, reduces tooth decay, calms coughs and improves vision.

Sources for this article include:

Learn more:

Fibromyalgia @!


– See more at:

The Sweet Sting of Agave…

agave_avellanidens160agave bottle

Well folks, Veda Health just touched upon the high fructose content and heavy processing of Agave syrup, but here are some great articles to delve further into the issue. I’ve included some highlights with excerpts from each article to help understand the basics of why most manufactured (but not all) agave is not a good part of a Holistic lifestyle. #4 has a link to Wholesome Sweeteners Fact vs. Fiction for Agave processing. Wholesome is often a trusted source for organic, fair trad foods. With respect to agave, they point out how agave has 75% fructose content that is derived from hydrolyzing agave sap and breaking down inulin fiber. Meaning, it’s still a high fructose content without adequate natural fiber as a Whole Food source.

For now, experts recommend organic, raw, coconut palm sugar instead of agave. Stevia is also a current option, but there may be hidden news about its manufacturing on the horizon. Of course, the best way to obtain natural sugar is through healthy fruits with balancing fiber in our diets. A food list of fruits with fructose content is provide from Dr. Mercola in the second article excerpt.

I have to say that this post has been coming for a long time and the initial news busted my bubble on this sweetener. It seems to me that false marketing is everywhere and its up to us to be investigative journalists to provide adequate food safety for ourselves and our families. Thanks for listening. =)




Agave is not natural

Agave was developed in the 1990′s and is made primarily in Mexico. There is really no such thing as agave nectar. The sweetener is made from the starchy part of the yucca or agave plant — the roots. Inulin, also a complex carbohydrate, makes up about 50% of the carbohydrate content of agave.

To produce so called agave nectar from the Agave Americana and Tequiliana plants, the leaves are cut off the plant after it has aged 7 to 14 years. Then the juice is expressed from the core of the agave. The juice is filtered, then heated, in order to hydrolyze the polysaccharides into simple sugars. The filtered, hydrolyzed juice is concentrated to a syrupy liquid, slightly thinner than honey, from light colored to dark amber, depending on the degree of processing. (source)

It is a highly processed operation to convert the carbohydrates into a liquid nectar. This is done using caustic acids, clarifiers and filtration chemicals and results in a syrup that is from 70% – 92% pure fructose — even higher than high fructose corn syrup (which is 55%).  This is certainly not a raw product and this entire method can’t be good.

Sally Fallon Morell and Rami Nagel, authors of “Agave Nectar: Worse Than We Thought,” write that obese people who drank fructose sweetened drinks with a meal had blood triglyceride levels 200 times higher than equally obese people who drank glucose-sweetened drinks. Clearly, this indicates that synthesized fructose is very bad for you. Agave nectar is packed with it.

Concentrated fructose is a burden

Research suggests that fructose actually promotes disease more readily than glucose.  This is because glucose is metabolized by every cell in the body, but fructose must be metabolized by the liver. Animals studies show that the livers of animals fed large amounts of fructose develop fatty deposits and cirrhosis of the liver.  This is similar to the livers of alcoholics.

These studies show that fructose consumption induces insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance, hyperinsulinemia, hypertriglycerolemia, and hypertension in animal models.


How Agave is Grown and Produced Proves it is Unnatural

Agaves grow primarily in Mexico, but you can also find them in the southern and western United States, as well as in South America. Agaves are not cacti, but succulents of the yucca family, more closely related to amaryllis and other lilies. Edible parts of the agave are the flowers, leaves, stalks and the sap.

A mature agave is 7 to 12 feet in diameter with leaves that are 5 to 8 feet tall — an impressive plant in stature, to be sure. There are over 100 species of agave, in a wide variety of sizes and colors.

Although the industry wants you to believe that agave nectar runs straight from the plant and into your jar, nothing could not be farther from the truth.

In spite of manufacturer’s claims, most agave “nectar” is not made from the sap of the yucca or agave plant but from its pineapple-like root bulb[i]. The root has a complex carbohydrate called inulin, which is made up of fructose molecules.

The process which many, if not most, agave producers use to convert this inulin into “nectar” is VERY similar to the process by which cornstarch is converted into HFCS1.

Though processing methods can differ among manufacturers, most commercially available agave is converted into fructose-rich syrup using genetically modified enzymes and a chemically intensive process involving caustic acids, clarifiers, and filtration chemicals[ii]. Here is a partial list of the chemicals many producers use:

  • Activated charcoal
  • Cationic and ionic resins
  • Sulfuric and/or hydrofluoric acid
  • Dicalite
  • Clarimex
  • Inulin enzymes
  • Fructozyme

How natural does this sound?

The result is highly refined fructose syrup, along with some remaining inulin.

Most agave “nectar” is neither safe nor natural with laboratory-generated fructose levels of more than 80 percent!

Is There Really a “Safe” Organic Agave?

Part of the problem leading to the confusion is that there are some natural food companies that are indeed committed to excellence and in providing the best product possible. But let me assure you that in the agave industry, this is the minority of companies. 

Nevertheless, these ethical companies seek to provide an outstanding product. There are a few companies who commit to and actually achieve these criteria and actually:

  • Work with the indigenous people,
  • Use organic agave as the raw material, free of pesticides
  • Process it at low temperatures to preserve all the natural enzymes
  • Produce a final agave product that is closer to 50% fructose instead of over 90%
  • Fructose is bonded or conjugated to other sugars and not floating around as “free” fructose, like HFCS, which is far more damaging.

The VAST majority of companies however do not apply these principles and essentially produce a product that is, as this articles states, FAR worse than HFCS.

If you are going to use agave you will certainly want to seek out one of the companies that adhere to the principles above. However you will still need to exert caution in using it.

Just like fruit it is quantity issue. Fructose only becomes a metabolic poison when you consume it in quantities greater than 25 grams a day. If you consume one of the typical agave preparations that is one tablespoon, assuming you consume ZERO additional fructose in your diet, which is VERY unlikely since the average person consumes 70 grams per day.

Even a hundred years ago, long prior to modern day food processing, the average person consumed 15 grams a day.

What are Acceptable Alternatives to Agave?

If you are craving something sweet, your best bet is to reach for an apple or a pear. And if you give yourself a sugar holiday for even a couple of weeks, you will be amazed at how much those cravings will decrease. But be sure and count the grams of fructose and keep your total fructose from fruit below 15 grams per day as you are sure to consume plenty of “hidden” fructose in the other foods you will be eating.

You can use the table below to help you count your fructose grams.

Fruit Serving Size Grams of Fructose
Limes 1 medium 0
Lemons 1 medium 0.6
Cranberries 1 cup 0.7
Passion fruit 1 medium 0.9
Prune 1 medium 1.2
Apricot 1 medium 1.3
Guava 2 medium 2.2
Date (Deglet Noor style) 1 medium 2.6
Cantaloupe 1/8 of med. melon 2.8
Raspberries 1 cup 3.0
Clementine 1 medium 3.4
Kiwifruit 1 medium 3.4
Blackberries 1 cup 3.5
Star fruit 1 medium 3.6
Cherries, sweet 10 3.8
Strawberries 1 cup 3.8
Cherries, sour 1 cup 4.0
Pineapple 1 slice
(3.5″ x .75″)
Grapefruit, pink or red 1/2 medium 4.3
Fruit Serving Size Grams of Fructose
Boysenberries 1 cup 4.6
Tangerine/mandarin orange 1 medium 4.8
Nectarine 1 medium 5.4
Peach 1 medium 5.9
Orange (navel) 1 medium 6.1
Papaya 1/2 medium 6.3
Honeydew 1/8 of med. melon 6.7
Banana 1 medium 7.1
Blueberries 1 cup 7.4
Date (Medjool) 1 medium 7.7
Apple (composite) 1 medium 9.5
Persimmon 1 medium 10.6
Watermelon 1/16 med. melon 11.3
Pear 1 medium 11.8
Raisins 1/4 cup 12.3
Grapes, seedless (green or red) 1 cup 12.4
Mango 1/2 medium 16.2
Apricots, dried 1 cup 16.4
Figs, dried 1 cup 23.0


The Truth about Agave Syrup:
Not as Healthy as You May Think

by John Kohler

A relatively recent trend in raw food preparation is the use of agave syrup (also called agave nectar) as sweetener is called for in raw recipes.  I am often asked about my views on this sweetener.

When I first switched to a raw food diet in 1995, agave syrup was unknown and was NOT USED IN RAW FOODS!  I first learned about agave syrup back in 1999 or 2000 at a trade show for the health food industry, which I attend regularly to keep up with the latest in the health and nutrition field.  I asked several questions, got some samples, and inquired on how the company processed the agave syrup.  At that time, I learned that it was processed at roughly 140 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit11, so I certainly didn’t consider it a raw food by any means.  Just like agave, some people consider maple syrup a raw food, but all maple syrup is heat-treated and is therefore not raw at all. 

Unfortunately, there are no “raw labeling laws.”  Anyone, anywhere, at any time can put “RAW” on their label and to them it can be supposedly raw since it is made from a “raw” material or simply not roasted. Just because it says “RAW” doesn’t necessarily mean that it was processed at a temperature under 118 degrees and still has all its enzymes, nutrients, and “life force” intact.  For example, when you notice the difference between raw carob powder and roasted carob powder in the store, it is my understanding that the “raw” carob powder has been heated to about 250 degrees, whereas the “roasted” carob powder has been heated to about 450 degrees.  The additional heat applied to the “roasted” carob powder causes the carob to “carmelize,” thus making it darker in appearance and different in taste as compared to the “raw” carob powder.  Some stores sell “truly raw” carob powder, it has a more chalkier texture than supposedly “raw” carob powder.  Jaffe Bros in Valley Center, California is a source of the “truly raw” carob powder.  There are several raw food snack bars that say “RAW” but have ingredients such as cooked cocoa powder (that can’t be raw) and cashew nuts (most of which are not truly raw).

An except on how Agave is processed

…Agave plants are crushed, and the sap collected into tanks. The sap is then heated to about 140°F for about 36 hours not only to concentrate the liquid into a syrup, but to develop the sweetness. The main carbohydrates in the agave sap are complex forms of fructose called fructosans, one of which is inulin, a straight-chain fructose polymer about ten eight to 10 fructose sugar units long. In this state, the sap is not very sweet.

When the agave sap is heated, the complex fructosans are hydrolyzed, or broken into their constituent fructose units. The fructose-rich solution is then filtered to obtain the desired products that range from dark syrup with a characteristic vanilla aroma, to a light amber liquid with more neutral characteristics. Excerpt from:  

So agave needs to be hydrolyzed so that the complex fructosans are “broken down” into fructose units or it won’t be sweet!!  Great now im eating hydrolyzed raw agave syrup!


Making Wholesome Sweeteners Blue Agaves

In the field:

After growing for 5 to 7 years, a mature blue agave stands 6 to 8 feet tall and its carbohydrates, or “sugars,” are at their peak.[ii] The blue agave stores carbohydrates in the plant’s core or pina (so-called because it resembles a pineapple after the leaves have been trimmed away). Farmers hand-harvest blue agave with a simple razor-sharp blade, leave the field trimmings behind to restore the soil and reduce erosion, and take the pinas to the mill for crushing.


At the mill:

Once at the mill, the blue agave pina is crushed and its carbohydrate- and inulin-rich juice is collected. Inulin is a difficult-to-digest plant fiber, so to make it digestible, it must be changed into something our bodies can comfortably manage–in this case, fructose and glucose. Because Wholesome holds to USDA Organic Standards, we use a relatively simple method to change the agave from a plant fiber to a sweetener:


  • ·        In a process called “thermal hydrolysis,” the agave juice is exposed to different levels of heat. It is simply the application of heat to convert the inulin into a natural combination of the common sugars fructose and glucose. (We do the same thing when we reduce a sauce.) [iii]
  • ·        Wholesome’s Organic (Light) Blue Agave is heated quickly to a high temperature, then cooled.
  • ·        Raw Blue Agave is hydrolyzed at a much lower temperature for a much longer time.
  • ·        After gentle heating, the juice is physically filtered to remove extraneous materials, lower the color and lessen the mineral content, as all these can affect the flavor profile. National Organic Program-approved diatomaceous earth is used as a filtering agent. (The raw syrup is minimally filtered so it maintains a rich amber color and richer flavor.)
  • ·        The filtered syrup is then cooled in sealed tanks using cold water pumped through spiral tubes.


Under the microscope:

Every batch of Wholesome Sweeteners Blue Agave must pass lab tests at the mill, and before it is bottled. As produced, Wholesome’s Blue Agave is 75% fructose, 20% glucose (also called dextrose), with small amounts of inulin and mannitol. (According to the Glycemic Index, a scientific standard used for measuring foods’ effect on blood sugars, agaves’ combination of sugars make them low glycemic sweeteners.)