It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us. 

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Vegan Bacon: Why It’s Better for You and How to Make Your Own

If you Google “broccoli summer camp,” “kale summer camp,” and “cauliflower summer camp,” you’ll come up empty. You’ll find summer recipes for these cruciferous stars, sure, but no weeklong vacation event dedicated to them.

When you search for “bacon summer camp,” by contrast, you’ll discover that there is such a thing. With speakers, cooking tutorials, panel discussions, butchering demos, and even a bacon film festival, Camp Bacon caters to one of the hottest foods of the past decade.

And that’s just the tip of the strip, if you will. Someone spent enough time and energy to figure out that 62% of US restaurants have bacon on the menu. The average American consumes almost 18 pounds of bacon per year – and if you don’t, then someone out there is eating 36 pounds to keep the average up. There’s a National Bacon Day in the US. And bacon has gone from breakfast meat to ubiquitous star ingredient in everything from bacon-wrapped hot dogs and steaks to desserts like cupcakes and ice cream. And if I haven’t yet convinced you that bacon makes people highly irrational, there’s a Seattle company that sells bacon-scented underwear for men and women.

These days, whenever an animal-based product becomes hugely popular, plant-based versions aren’t far behind. Thanks to a growing market, new technologies, and social media experimentation, there are now plant-based bacon alternatives that are getting closer and closer to the original. According to the online food ordering company Grubhub, users ordered vegan bacon 113% more in 2019 than the year before.

And it’s a good thing, too! Bacon comes from pigs, the vast majority of which (approximately 95%) are raised on factory farms, which carry a whole host of ethical and environmental problems. And that’s not even mentioning the health effects of bacon, which is a highly processed meat.

So in this article, we’ll take a look at vegan bacon: why it can be a much better alternative to the stuff that comes from pigs, how you can make it yourself, and recipes that use plant-based bacon.

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Are Mangoes Good for You — and the Planet?

Although it may not be as revered as the apple, banana, or even tomato (at least in the western world), the mango is one of the most commonly eaten fruits worldwide. And production has gone up around 17% in the last few years globally, averaging over 55 million mangoes per year.

This luscious, juicy, sweet fruit that has won fans the world over originated in India, where it has a long and revered history. One of the central rituals of Hinduism, the puja ceremony, uses water infused with mango leaves to create the proper resonance for honored deities. Indian poets also use mangoes to evoke emotions like lust and love. And contemporary Indian novelists like Arundhati Roy and Anita Desai draw upon mangoes to symbolize abundance, sweetness, and possibility.

The mango is the national fruit of India, which produces more than half of all the mangoes consumed worldwide. Other top growers include Thailand, Mexico, and the tropical regions of China. In the US, mango trees can thrive in Hawaii, Florida, and parts of California.

With billions of fans and centuries of great PR, you’d think that mangoes have it made. But due to their high sugar content, mangoes are often vilified by low-carb enthusiasts. And because they’re exported around the globe, some environmentalists express concern over their carbon footprint and sustainability.

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What are the best vitamins to take to stay healthy at all times?

The current fitness and wellness market are literally flooded by a broad range of vitamins you can buy for prices ranging from “mind-blowing expensive” to “fantastically cheap.” Liquid vitamins, powdered supplements, special energy formulas, energy bars, are just some of the many different products currently available on the market.

There are many factors to consider before choosing the right supplement or vitamin for your health, and you should seek your doctor’s opinion first and foremost. However, we all know it’s not always possible to schedule an appointment with your family doctor to just ask him which one is the best vitamin you need.

Which ones are really good for your health, and how can you choose the ones your body really needs?

In this article, we won’t provide you any advice on the specific vitamin brands available on the market. We will just focus on the most important vitamins that can help you stay healthy at all times. Feel free to browse the Internet to find what’s the best supplement that suits your needs!

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Are Tomatoes Good for You?

Tomatoes are popular today, but that wasn’t always the case. Until the mid-1800s, people in the United States and Europe avoided and even feared them. Tomatoes are a member of the nightshade family of plants, which many Europeans historically considered to be toxic. (To be fair, eating the leaves and berries of one of the members of this family, Belladonna, will give you hallucinations and delirium if they don’t kill you first.)

Add the strong aroma of the tomato plant itself, and the scandalously red skin and juices, and those not familiar with the tomato’s culinary upsides might be forgiven for thinking that it was not fit for human consumption.

Early tomato marketing in the US didn’t help. A gardener from Massachusetts described them as “disgusting” sometime in the 1820s. Another chronicler of public opinion estimated that no more than 2% of the population would try that “sour trash” a second time following initial exposure.

It wasn’t just that tomato was an acquired taste that the populace hadn’t acquired. There was downright terror of tomatoes through the middle of the 19th century. One myth, widely believed in Europe, was that the mere touch of the green tomato worm could result in death.

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Meet Moringa: What Is This Transformative Superfood Good For?

I want this article to start a different kind of food revolution. You see, when I write about foods you might want to include in your diet, I generally focus on those that you can easily obtain: fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, legumes, and so on.

Today, I want to convince you to pay attention to one of the most nutritious and eco-friendly plants ever studied, even though the only way you can get it in most parts of the US and Europe is as a powdered supplement. Why? Because not only is the moringa tree an incredible source of nutrition, it also has the potential to reverse global warming, provide food for the starving, create thriving agricultural economies in some of the poorest places on earth, and even remove toxins from drinking water.

So, I hope you’ll indulge me a little until there’s enough of a market to get the attention of entrepreneurs, importers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and environmental and justice-oriented nonprofits to make moringa wide-spread.

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What Helps with COVID-19 Outcomes? The Foods & Nutrients You Should Know About

More than a year into the global pandemic, there’s a lot we still don’t know about COVID-19. But here’s one thing we do know: People who are obese, have hypertension, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes, fare far worse if they become infected. They are much more likely to be hospitalized. And they are far more likely to die. In fact, according to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 94% of COVID-19 deaths are linked to other “comorbidities.” Only 6% list COVID-19 as the sole cause of death.

Since many of these comorbidities are largely preventable (and often reversible) with a whole foods, plant-based diet, it is not an exaggeration to say that the standard American diet has turbocharged the pandemic.

The United States has less than 5% of the world’s population, but in the first year of the pandemic, had 20% of the world’s reported COVID-19 deaths. How could the world’s wealthiest country, with arguably the most advanced (and certainly the most expensive) healthcare system on the planet, have fared so poorly?

The sober reality is that the United States has experienced the most deaths by far of any country in the world from COVID-19. The mortality rate from COVID-19 in the US is about 40% higher than in Europe. Is it a coincidence that the obesity rate in the US is also about 40% higher than in Europe? Or is it a clue to something we urgently need to understand?

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Cool that fire: Inflammation

“Inflammation” is one of those health words that is bandied about all the time… but do we really know what it means?

We think of swelling and the color red… we know it’s not a good thing, and that we want less of it… but the rest is a bit mysterious.

After my recent online Kitchen Chat about Fighting Cancer -- with Food! (you can get the recording here), one attendee wrote, “I wish you could have spent a whole hour talking about inflammation!” Quite right. It’s THAT important. Especially how FOOD fits in, and how we can use food to tone inflammation down.

Let’s take a look.

First, definitions. At it’s best, inflammation is a normal response of the body to injury and infection and an important component of healing.

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5 Health Benefits Of Soybean

Soybean, a legume whose origin is East Asia, has grown to be one of the world's most consumed products today. Some people eat them as a whole, while others eat them as processed products, including soy sauce, soy flour, soybean oil, tofu, and soy milk. The product, which is often mixed with other foods or making soups, has many health benefits, like preventing further health issues. It’s good to taste, and health benefits have contributed significantly to its popularity.

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How to Balance Hormones Naturally with Diet & Lifestyle

Imagine if the different organs and systems in your body weren’t on speaking terms. If you ate a big meal, your stomach might keep that news to itself, and your intestines wouldn’t release enzymes to digest that meal. Your brain would hoard the knowledge of an oncoming car, and neglect to alert your heart to pump more blood into your extremities so you could leap out of the way safely. You might be staggering from fatigue but your pineal gland couldn’t get the other systems in your body to allow you to sleep.

All these communications, and millions more, occur so rapidly that it seems like they’re not even happening. The time from someone sneaking up behind you and popping a balloon to you going into full-on fight or flight appears not to exist — it just happens all at once. In reality, the different organs and systems in the body are in constant communication, all the time. And all that data transfers thanks to little chemical messengers known as hormones.

Hormones are involved in almost all of your bodily processes and are vital to your health. They keep your body functioning optimally. And big changes in their production can trigger or signal a physical transition from one stage of life to another. But sometimes hormone levels can be thrown out of balance. Depending on the cause, hormonal imbalances can be temporary or chronic. And while modern medicine tends to treat them with medications, it turns out there’s often a lot you can do to balance hormones naturally.

What Are Hormones?

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A plate full of health

A reader recently asked: what does your plate look like? Great question, and one I can answer in a word — veg-centric. 

We could all be eating more vegetables. Tons!

The science is crystal clear that eating MORE vegetables can do each of us a WORLD of good. Increasing the vegetables on our plate points us in the direction of more vibrant health, no matter what our age, gender, ethnicity, or current health conditions. 

But isn’t it hard to incorporate more vegetables into your diet? 

No! It’s surprisingly easy to fall in love with vegetables and find great ways to use them, because there are a VAST variety of types, colors, textures and flavors to choose from. It becomes more and more exciting the further you explore! 

Will I actually feel better if I eat more vegetables? 

Yes! And you may be surprised by how fast you actually FEEL better. 

At Food As Medicine, where I was Executive Chef for a decade, we offered luncheon buffets full of colorful, organic, largely plant-based dishes. Attendees were often amazed to experience health improvements, some within 24 hours. Elimination might improve dramatically! Focus, mental clarity and overall energy might be discernibly better. Quite impressive results for veg-centric eating in only a few days.

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Your Microbiome: The Most Promising Facts

By Naveen Jain and Deepak Chopra™, MD

It is fair to say that the exploration of the microbiome has turned out to be the most exciting prospect in medicine since the discovery of DNA. Most people have at least heard the term “gut microbiome,” which applies to the trillions of microbes, chiefly bacteria, that live in the human digestive tract. Awareness has risen to the point that taking probiotics—over-the-counter additives of microbes to supplement and balance the gut microbiome—has become a global $5 billion-dollar market.

We’ve reached the point, after a decade of intense investigation, where the ABCs of the microbiome are known. These facts provide the groundwork for what you can do, or cannot do, to improve your own gut microbiome (the word “gut” is necessary because we have multiple microbiomes in our mouth, groin, and armpits as well as over the surface of our skin).

           

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Is Salt Good for You? Sodium Facts You Need To Know About

Salt has long occupied a prominent place in human history. But do you have the all the facts on sodium?

For thousands of years, people who didn’t live near the ocean would travel great distances to trade for salt. Salt has been the center of many battles, often referred to as The Salt Wars. And a few British towns that end in “wich” (like Droitwich, Middlewich, Nantwich, Northwich, and Leftwich) were named for and associated with their salt works (the cognate wic sometimes related to salt works, although wic’s usual meaning was “dwelling, place, or town”). Isn’t history neat?

Our esteem for salt goes back to Biblical times. When you call someone “salt of the earth” to indicate that they embody integrity and composure in difficult situations, you’re actually quoting from Matthew 5:13. Salt was valued so highly that it was equated with currency, as you can hear in our modern word “salary,” or “payment in salt.”

But why? What made salt worth journeying, sometimes killing, and occasionally dying for throughout history?

Why We Like Salt So Much

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The Smartest Diet for Your Brain

It starts with the “p” word — and that would be “plants.”

A flood of new and surprising research is emerging about the role that plants play in brain health. For example, a study on the MIND diet — a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH diets — published online in Alzheimer’s & Dementia, The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association — concluded that people who eat more dark, leafy greens at least once a day have substantially slower cognitive decline with age than those who eat the Standard American Diet (SAD). Bingo!

Here I am on my soapbox again, talking to you about the importance of plants — for a reason! Whether it’s cancer, longevity, brain health or heart health, you’re going to find that the optimal diet has a lot of the color green in it. Why?

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What Is the Best Self-Care during the COVID-19 Crisis?

Self-care should be uppermost in our minds during the COVID-19 crisis, for several urgent reasons. Self-care returns a sense of control over your own life. It gives you an integrative approach to mind and body. It aligns you with the best knowledge currently available about who is more at risk for developing acute symptoms after being infected.

Your immune status is complex, and in mainstream medicine the chief determining factor is traditionally considered to be genetic. However, there are strong links to underlying low-level chronic inflammation connected to lifestyle that is found in most if not all common disorders including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and even obesity. COVID-19 has a mortality rate that increases with age and pre-existing conditions, as we all know by now.

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Healthy Pantry Foods You Should Have On Hand

Having a well-stocked pantry is always a good idea. And in uncertain times, it becomes all the more important. No matter what happens in the world, you’ll be healthier, your stress will be lower, and your immune system will be optimized if you have plenty of good, healthy food to eat! Here are some pantry foods (and freezer foods) you might want to consider stocking up on. As always, going organic can help you steer clear of exposure to glyphosate and other pesticides.

This is the list my family put together, based on the pantry and freezer items we stocked up on. I’m posting it here because I hope it might help you and yours, too!

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Are Bananas Good for You?

Bananas aren’t just for monkeys. In fact, among humans, they’re one of the most popular fruits in the world — and for a good reason. They’re delicious, inexpensive, and they even come in their own convenient packaging.

But is this delicious fruit good for you? Are they sustainable? And are there any downsides to this beloved fruit, other than the danger of slipping and falling on a peel? And what are some of the best ways to enjoy bananas?

History of Bananas

Bananas are the fruit of the Musa acuminata plant. The word “acuminata” means tapering or long-pointed and refers to the flowers, not the fruit itself. Before the banana was called the banana, around the 17th century, it was named “banema” in Guinea.

Bananas originally came from the Indo-Malaysian region, stretching down to northern Australia. Historians guess that people started spreading the wonder of edible bananas in the Mediterranean region in the 3rd century, B.C. It wasn’t until the 10th century, A.D., that bananas are presumed to have first arrived in Europe and began their spread around the globe.

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Gluten-Free: Is it for Everyone?

Millions of people around the world have gone gluten-free in the last decade. A 2015 Gallup poll found that around one-fifth of Americans and many Europeans prefer gluten-free foods. 

So it makes sense to ask the question: should we avoid gluten? Is it bad for our health? Should everyone go gluten-free, or just certain people? 

Ordinarily, these questions would lend themselves to pretty straightforward scientific inquiry. Researchers would examine different populations, explore the biochemistry of gluten in the human body, and conduct randomized trials to see the results of different dietary patterns.

All this work is already out there — and we’ll talk about a lot of it in this article. But talking rationally about gluten has become difficult for a couple of reasons. First, there’s a lot of money in convincing as many people as possible not just to avoid gluten, but to purchase manufactured gluten-free analogues and substitutes. By 2020, the gluten-free foods market is projected to reach $7.59 billion in the United States alone.

Second, gluten has become a pawn in the culture war between vegans and meat lovers. Many in the Paleo and keto communities cite gluten concerns as evidence that plant-based diets are inferior to those containing large amounts of (gluten-free) animal products.  

When financial interests and cultural forces intersect, the truth often suffers. The “You’re-either-with-me-or-against-me” attitude can undermine the good-faith pursuit of truth, and the millions of dollars at stake can fund pro-industry propaganda at the expense of facts.

What to Expect in This Article

In this article, we focus on the actual evidence. We explore what the science says about gluten, who can benefit from avoiding it, and whether it might actually be beneficial for some people.

And we want to remind you upfront that you know more about your body than anyone else does. More than the marketers trying to sell you their products. More than the scientists searching for trends in large populations. And more than your social media friends and acquaintances sharing the latest blog post on why you should never touch wheat. Or why your so-called gluten-intolerance is nothing but a placebo effect. So read on, and consider what we’re learning from scientific inquiries, along with your own experience of what your body is telling you. 

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Ease that (sometimes) rocky road into Fall

You know how it is when you’re feeling like crap? It’s your body’s way of saying, look, we need a re-boot! Listen to me and just clear your books. We need a rest! You know it and I know it when that happens. The question is: do we pay attention?

I did when this happened to me recently, and I wanted to tell you how I wrangled self-care while feeling lousy.

Transition Time

It’s that time of year, September/October, when we’re transitioning into fall. We’re going from raw foods and the heat of summer to the precariousness of fall, that changes from warm or hot to rainy and cold in the blink of an eye. We’re a little more vulnerable. This is the perfect time to really pay attention to what your body is asking for, and what it’s rejecting! 

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Non-Dairy Ice Cream: Is It Better For You?

“I scream, you scream…” — you know how it goes. Ice cream is one of the most beloved foods in the world. The average American consumes more than 23 pounds of ice cream per year. And with the plant-based movement in full swing, more and more consumers are opting for non-dairy ice creams.

You may know that my family is intimately familiar with ice cream. My grandfather, Irv Robbins, co-founded Baskin-Robbins. At the time, most folks seemed content with vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry — the classics. But he thought there should be more flavors — 31, in fact! And he brought smiles to a lot of faces.

Unfortunately, in case anyone on the planet missed the memo, ice cream is not a health food. It turns out that despite its delicious flavor, eating a lot of ice cream doesn’t do any favors for your long-term health.

Why Ice Cream Isn’t Healthy

A young woman holds an ice cream cone on a yellow background
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Before your very eyes

Have you ever experienced that rare moment when you’ve been around long enough to see signs of system-wide transformation occur before your very eyes? Dear reader, such has been the case with the role of food and medicine in the span of my professional career, during which I’ve devoted myself and my talents towards this very end—bringing science to the table, and food to the treatment plan. 

The moment that filled my heart!

My foundation, Healing Kitchens, works with different hospitals and cancer centers to provide culinary content for their patients. We recently accepted an invitation to pay a call at Stanford Health Care. We’ve done some interesting work at Stanford in the past, including online, live and printed material for neuroendocrine cancer patients and for their survivorship program and website. We had modified my Cancer-Fighting Kitchen approach with specific protocols for neuroendocrine and carcinoid syndrome—two very specialized forms of cancer—and word got out. A colorectal surgeon at Stanford putting together a trial for pre-op prep for her patients suggested we meet and talk about the role food can play in patient preparedness and recovery. 

The surgeon and her team were curious: what would happen if we have people shift their eating to an immune-boosting diet full of anti-inflammatory foods and also include exercise? Would it help people recover faster and with less chance of complications? 

This was MUSIC to my ears! The notion of helping patients BEFORE they go into surgery with food!!!! We introduced her to my famous healing, nourishing Magic Mineral Broth. Oh my gosh, she said, is this a clear broth? I can give this to all my patients!!!  Long story short, we’re working on a package to go into this critical trial.

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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