Health and Nutrition

Our New Season Kale Chips and the USDA Organic Seal

Cristine Teves - Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Hello wonderful Blue Mountain customers!


You'll soon see some small changes to our Kale Chip labels. 


The product will be exactly the same raw, sprouted, organic, premium quality Kale Chips made in Floyd, Virginia from locally grown fresh organic kale; however, a change in regulation will require us to change the way we must label these delicious, organic treats.  In the past, organic nutritional yeast was not available so conventional yeast was approved for use in organic products.  We used the highest quality yeast from a reputable manufacturer for our Kale Chips.  An 'organic yeast' is now available (offered by the company who lobbied the USDA to remove other yeasts from the approved list) but we tested this product and find that it is not of the same taste or texture.  It also has an adverse impact on the flavor of our Cheezy Kale Chips. 


Faced with a dilemma, cease production of Cheezy Kale Chips or change our labels, we opted exceptionally to change our labels so that you may continue to enjoy the same delicious product you enjoyed in the past. 


We have not listed the yeast we used as organic (OG) in the past but now we must also remove the USDA seal. Our organic certifier, Stellar Certification Services, will still oversee this product so their name will still appear on our label and you will see all major ingredients, Kale, Cashews and Peppers still listed as ‘Organic.'


We try hard to produce a 100% certified product and know that for many of you that is important, so we have removed nutritional yeast entirely from our Tomato Basil Kale Chips.  The flavor is still amazing and the chips contain all the other premium organic ingredients that were used in the past.


At Blue Mountain we are dedicated to delivering the finest nutritional experience to you. So, we’d love to have your feedback about both flavors of our Kale Chips.  Your feedback will help us continue to provide you the best experience possible.

Wishing you all the best in good health,


The Team at Blue Mountain Organics Distribution LLC


Cooking Time for Sprouted Grains and Beans

Cristine Teves - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Creative and Healthy Cashew Cream Recipes and Tips

Gregg Carroll - Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Please enjoy the sample of recipes below for delicious cashew cream sundaes, parfaits, "ice cream" sandwiches and more, all made with delicious, healthy toppings. We have also included how these toppings will "boost" the nutritional value of your indulgences.


Combination 1:
Carob Pistachios Sundae Sandwich

1 Raw Bakery™ carob pistachio brownie

2 Tbsp. of frozen cashew cream

Cut a piece of TRB™ carob pistachios brownie lengthwise into "sandwich" pieces. With one slice as the bottom layer place 2 Tbsp. of frozen cashew cream on top, then place the other carob pistachios slice on top to form a sandwich and enjoy.

Nutritional benefits:

• Polyphenol antioxidants from carob

• Phytosterols from pistachios and cashews

• Potassium, γ-tocopherol and xanthophyll carotenoids from pistachiosv

• Vitamins thiamin, vitamin E, and B6, and minerals copper and manganese

• Heart-healthy mono-unsaturates


Combination 2:
Cashew Sundae with Coconut Mulberry Chia Delight and Goji

¼ cup of Love Raw Foods™ coconut mulberry chia delight

2 scoops of frozen cashew cream

½ bar of Raw Bakery™ goji bar (optional)

Allow the delicious mixture of coco mulberry chia to soak up some water for 30 minutes to form a nutritious pudding base. Serve in an ice cream cup and top it off with frozen cashew cream. Cut up a goji bar into small bite size pieces and sprinkle on top as a tangy twist.

Nutritional benefits:

• Omega-3 fat (ALA) from chia seeds

• Healthy medium-chain triglycerides from coconut

• Goji berries are rich in 8 essential aminoacids and contain the unique nutrient cerebrosides (a combination of glucose and fat) that aids in brain and liver health

• Rich in energy boosting B vitamins


Combination 3:
Cashew Sundae with Cacao Crunch Brownie Tiramisu

1 Raw Bakery™ cacao crunch brownie

2 scoops of frozen cashew cream

1 cup of Better Than Roasted® berry powerful trail mix

Cut and arrange the cacao crunch brownie in a rectangular dish and add a scoop of frozen cashew cream on top. Create another layer using the berry powerful trail mix, and top again with frozen cashew cream. Enjoy!

Nutritional benefits:

• Good source of protein and insoluble fiber

• Rich in polyphenolic antioxidants

• Great source of minerals like magnesium, manganese, selenium, copper and zinc

• Lignans in flax seeds and phytosterols in hazel nuts are one of nature's best cholesterol-lowering agents


Combination 4:
Cashew Sundae with Apple Pecan Cinnamon Granola Parfait

½ cup frozen cashew cream

½ cup of your favorite fresh fruit (sliced banana, blueberries) or dry fruit (Love Raw Foods™ apple rings, pineapple rings, apricots or dates)

2 tablespoons of apple pecan cinnamon granola

Place ¼ cup of frozen cashew cream in a clear glass. Top with ¼ cup of fruit and 2 tablespoons of apple pecan cinnamon granola. Repeat for multiple layers and serve.

Nutritional benefits:

• Array of vitamins, minerals and trace elements

• Powerful mix of antioxidants

• Provides both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber


Combination 5:
Cashew Sundae with Chocolate Kale Crumbled with Crushed Almonds

½ cup frozen cashew cream

1 package of Earth Chips™ chocolate kale chips

2 tablespoon crushed Better Than Roasted® almonds

Gently crush the chocolate kale chips and mix with chopped BTR® almonds. Place 2 scoops of frozen cashew cream into a bowl and top with the chocolate kale and almond mix for a great tasting nutritious treat.

Nutritional benefits:

• Rich in calcium from kale and almonds

• Good source of protein

• High in antioxidant compounds

• Phytosterols, magnesium, tryptophan and copper


Combination 6:
Cashew Sundae with Marshmallow Crunch and Apple Rings Wedges

1 5oz package of Love Raw Foods™ apple rings

2 Tbsp. frozen cashew cream

2-3 Tbsp.Raw Bakery™ marshmallow crunch

Cut apples into wedges. Add a layer of frozen cashew cream on top of the apple wedges. Sprinkle with pieces of marshmallow crunch and enjoy.

Nutritional benefits:

• Super nutritious

• Good source of dietary fiber, omega-3 fats and protein

• Rich in manganese and magnesiumv

• Heart-healthy mono-unsaturates


Combination 7:
Tropical Cashew Sundae Mix

1 scoop of mango cashew cream

1 scoop of strawberry cashew cream

1 scoop of vanilla cashew cream

2 Tbsp. of oasis trail mix

1 Tbsp. of lucuma powder

In an ice cream bowl, place 1 scoop of each cashew cream flavor, sprinkle LRF™ lucuma powder on top, then top with some oasis trail mix. Enjoy the burst of tropical flavors melting in your mouth!

Nutritional benefits

• Energy booster

• Rich in minerals and vitamins

• Good source of antioxidants

• Heart-healthy fats and phytosterols

• Good source of dietary fiber


How can I include some omega-3 fats into these recipes?

Adding omega-3 rich foods is simple and easy for any of the above combinations. While some combinations already have their dose of omega-3's, like the Coconut Mulbery Chia Delight combo, you can boost your intake by including flax seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds and walnuts into any of these recipes. They also add a crunchy finish to the sundaes.


How can I blend in a superfood?

Super foods are called as such because of their superior nutrition and therapeutic properties. Besides being a food, they also function as disease-protectors, and hence the name. There are many ways you can incorporate them in your treat; blend your choice of superfood powder with a favorite nut butter and drizzle as a topping, or you could simply sprinkle the powder itself before eating. Our list of superfoods include lucama, maca, mesquite, spirulina and wheat grass.


What are some ways I can increase my fiber intake?

Dietary fiber is abundant in most whole plant foods. Using a combo that includes kale, sprouted grains such as living oats or buckwheat, and most nuts and seeds (which also provide insoluble fiber) are a fantastic way to improve your daily fiber intake. Another great way is to use dry or fresh fruits such as figs, pears, dates, and prunes as a topping.


What are the best plant proteins that I can add to my recipe?

While just about any whole grain contains protein. Good sources include lentils, legumes, quinoa and nuts. Our protein powders — Love Raw Foods™ brown rice protein powder and Love Raw Foods™ hemp seed protein powder — as well as Love Raw Foods™ spirulina, and Love Raw Foods™ mesquite are all rich in aminoacids and are a great add-on as a topping. Another way to increase your protein is to use chopped nuts and seeds. Almonds (6.02 g / ounce), pistachios (6.05 g/ oz), hazelnuts, cashews, and walnuts provide about 4g / ounce.


Which are the best sources of antioxidants that I can use in my recipes?

Here is a quick glance at our antioxidant arsenal that you can choose from:

Nuts – Almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, brazil nuts

Seeds – Chia, sunflower seeds, hemp

Love Raw Foods™ living oats

Love Raw Foods™ cinnamon

Love Raw Foods™ cacao powder, Love Raw Foods™ carob powder, Love Raw Foods™ spirulina, Love Raw Foods™ maca, Love Raw Foods™ mesquite.

The combinations are limitless and you will enjoy health benefits from all of them. Just be sure to use a variety of antioxidants in your selection to reap a spectrum of benefits.


How can I improve my calcium intake?

You can choose from a variety of calcium rich plant foods - nuts and seeds for improving calcium in your daily menu. Some examples include:

Sesame seeds, hulled (1 oz): 15 mg

Un-hulled sesame seeds -black (1 oz): 265 mg

Tahini seed butter (1 oz): 120 mg

Almonds (1 oz): 74 mg

Brazil nuts (1 oz): 45 mg

Hazel nuts (1 oz): 32 mg

Chia seeds (1 oz): 177 mg

Sunflower seeds (1 oz): 21.8 mg

Pumpkin seeds (1 oz): 13 mg


How about some vitamin E rich toppings?

Pumpkin seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, dried apricots, pine nuts, and mango are all rich in vitamin E. Other great vitamin E toppings include Better Than Roasted™ almond butter, Better Than Roasted™ hazel nut butter and Better Than Roasted™ pine nut butter.

Five Common Mistakes New Vegans Make

Gregg Carroll - Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Whether you are a vegan for ethical reasons or for health benefits, it is not uncommon to find yourself confused when embarking on a vegan journey. Here are five common mistakes new vegans make and tips to avoid them:

#1 If it is vegan it is healthy: This is not always true. Most processed foods are 100% vegan, but are loaded with chemicals, calories, and are low in nutrients. Examples include potato chips, veggie burgers, and veggie hot dogs. Although these foods are sourced from plants, they are certainly altered from their natural state. These foods have been stripped of their natural nutrients and are presented in a form that is mostly devoid of antioxidants, dietary fiber and other beneficial compounds. All you are consuming are foods that will pack on the pounds with little nutritional value.

Tip: Consume whole, real, fresh and unprocessed foods.

#2 Not consuming enough water: If you switched from a predominantly meat-based diet to a vegan diet, your body will get adequate fiber from the variety of vegetables, fruits and legumes consumed. Drinking water helps the body to efficiently handle the dietary fiber, promoting regular bowel movements. When water intake is poor, it may result in discomfort while on a fiber-rich diet. The general recommendation is to consume at least 8 cups of water per day, but it is not necessary to adhere strictly to this recommendation. Consuming water-laden foods like watermelon, cucumber and so on can automatically take care of a healthy water intake.

Tip: The key here is to stay well hydrated without overdoing it.

#3 Not consuming enough food: Plant-based foods are not high in calories and are easier to digest. These are the two factors that distinguishes it from non-vegetarian food groups. Most often new vegans make the mistake of consuming the same quantities of food as they did during their pre-vegan diet. Plant-based experts recommend consuming whole and natural foods whenever hunger strikes, however it is important to note that the food should be wholesome and unprocessed, or less processed.

Tip: Reach for healthy, 100% unprocessed foods like raw fruits and vegetables for snacks to fill up in-between meal times.

#4 Giving-up prematurely: While on a new diet our bodies require a minimum of 3–4 weeks to adapt to the new style of eating. Most often people get discouraged while their body is still adjusting to a completely plant-based diet. Food cravings do not mean that you are craving for a particular food like meat, it is more often that body did not receive a particular nutrient such as fat. In such cases, consuming heart-healthy, whole nuts such as almonds, walnuts or seeds such as pumpkin or flax either as part of a meal or individually will certainl helps.

Tip: Practice mindful eating and listen to your body signals.

#5 Not keeping your doctor informed: While on a plant-based diet you may not need the same dosage of a given medication that you were taking before. This especially holds true for individuals that are on blood pressure and cholesterol medication. Please be aware that if you are still consuming foods that are processed, you might still be consuming additional sodium, sugar and calories that have little to no effect in helping to lower medication doses.

Tip: It is a good idea to speak to a registered dietitian or a nutritionist regarding your food choices and also keep your doctor informed about your dietary changes.

The 'Living Force' of Sprouts

Gregg Carroll - Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Spring is a favorite season for many of us, as Earth comes back to life after the long cold winter months. In this beautiful time of the year, the seeds and bulbs wake up from their winter slumber and sprout into a fully grown plant. Sprouting is a natural part of plant life, and is also sometimes called the “living force.” During the sprouting process the nutrients of the seed or grain multiply many times in order to develop into a plant.

Sprouts have long been consumed in many cultures for nutritional and medicinal purpose. There is documented evidence that the ancient Chinese used sprouts to cure many disorders and ailments over 5,000 years ago.

Why Are Sprouts Good for You?

Sprouts are "living foods," abundant in enzymes, vitamins and minerals. Sprouts can grow in almost any climate, require no cooking, and are free of waste during preparation. These sprout nutrients are quickly absorbed by the body, and are important because:

Nutritional Powerhouse: Researchers at the universities of Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Yale and McGill found that sprouts retain B-complex vitamins in the original seed state. They also found that there was 300% increase in carotenes and a 500% increase in vitamin C versus the un-sprouted seed. Due to its abundant nutritional value, it was used during World War II to make dehydrated crackers, breads and other foods.

Easier Digestion: The sprouting process converts the starches to simple sugars and eases digestion. Furthermore, sprouts are full of living enzymes that help aid the digestive process in the body.

Better nutrient availability: Sprouting nullifies the effect of enzyme inhibitors and acids. Enzyme inhibitors are normally present in all seeds and grains as part of the plant's natural defense mechanism to survive even when eaten. Sprouting breaks these inhibitors and triggers the growth mechanism. The defense mechanism which is primarily enzyme inhibitor is neutralized during sprouting which eliminates the problems of indigestion, bloating and poor nutrient absorption.

Sprouting Choices

There are many variety of grains, seeds and legumes that can be sprouted, and they do not always have to be alfalfa and Brussels sprouts in salads. According to Dr. Fuhrman sprouts are concentrated source of a variety of phytochemicals. Try mung, radish, lentils, legumes, and broccoli sprouts. The key is to include a variety and diverse plant-based foods in order to optimize the health benefits.

Quick look at certain sprouts and their benefits:

Sprout Type Health Benefit
Alfalfa Rich source of saponins that lower bad cholesterol and stimulate the immune system.
Broccoli Glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, potent phase 2 liver detoxification enzymes.
Chick peas 43 mg of Calcium , 53 mg of magnesium, and 21.7 mg of vitamin C per cup.
Daikon High in vitamin C (19.4 mg per cup) and Carotenes such as Vitamin A 149 IU.
Mung beans Provides 13.7 mg vitamin C per cup, folate 63.4 mcg, Magnesium 21.8 mg.
Red lentils Provides 6.9 grams of protein per cup.

Spring Sprout Coleslaw

(Makes 4 servings)


4 cups Chinese cabbage

1 shredded beet root (medium)

1 Julienned carrot

1 cup daikon radish sprouts

2 Scallions (chopped)

1/4 cup black sesame seeds

Ginger-cashew mayo:

1 Tbsp. ginger–garlic, minced

1 tsp. sea salt

1 cup Love Raw Foods™ cashew butter

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

For slaw, slice cabbage with a mandolin slicer and knife. Place in a large bowl with sprouts and carrots.

Combine cashew butter with sea salt, lemon juice, and minced ginger-garlic to make a creamy consistency.

If the mayonnaise is too thick, add some water to bring to a thin consistency. Add the scallions, sesame seeds and toss gently.


The Green Foods Bible, David Sanodval, p 139.

Choose Right and Decrease High Cholesterol

Gregg Carroll - Sunday, April 21, 2013

One of the most important blood parameters that a physician looks for during a wellness visit is your cholesterol. If your cholesterol levels shoot beyond the normal range, you'll be advised to keep a watch on your food intake, make healthy alterations to your diet, and in some cases medications would be prescribed. So why is so much attention given to our cholesterol levels? Because the artery clogging activity of cholesterol begins as early as in your 20's and 30's. The Framingham Heart study states that nearly a quarter of women (early 30's) in the study showed borderline-high levels of bad cholesterol, more than a third in their early 40's, and more than half in their early 50's.

What Cholesterol Means to You

Cholesterol is a type of waxy substance that is present in all cells of the body and circulates in the blood stream. Not all cholesterol is bad, it is necessary to produce hormones, vitamin D, and certain enzymes that aid in digestion. Regardless of the supply of cholesterol in our diets, our body produces its own cholesterol called as endogenous cholesterol. The body uses both sources of cholesterol; dietary (exogenous such as meat, fish, egg, poultry, dairy) and endogenous cholesterol.

High cholesterol is one risk factor for stroke, heart disease and heart attack. The problem arises when excess cholesterol clogs the arteries and restricts blood flow, leading to heart disease and other dangerous complications. The National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute reports that about 42 million Americans are affected by high cholesterol and 63 million have borderline cholesterol.

What Factors Affect Blood Cholesterol Levels?

Diet, aging, genetics, diabetes, exercise, body weight, diabetes, smoking, sedentary lifestyle and stress influence the blood cholesterol levels. It is very important to consult your doctor regularly for blood tests, as an elevation in cholesterol does not produce warning signs or symptoms. The frequency of tests will be determined by your individual risk factors such as family history, patient history and diet.

Blood Cholesterol Levels

200 mg / 100 ml – Desirable

200 – 239 mg / 100 ml – Borderline High

240mg and above / 100 ml – High

Managing and decreasing high cholesterol has three important components: dietary changes, decreasing excess body weight, and increasing physical activity.

How Do You Effectively Lower High Cholesterol?

Choosing the right kind of foods will have a significant influence on cholesterol levels. Making a gradual shift from a predominantly animal-based diet to more plant-based foods does promote healthy blood cholesterol. However, plant-based food choices need to be wholesome and devoid of refined ingredients.

The National Institute of Health recommends the consumption of 2 grams per day of plant sterols (plant stanols) and 5–10 grams per day of dietary fiber to effectively decrease blood cholesterol.

Plant sterols and plant stanols: These are present only in plant sources and help to block cholesterol absorption from the digestive tract. They are unique in that they lower bad cholesterol but do not decrease the levels of good cholesterol. Studies show that consuming 2 grams of plant sterols (phytosterols) everyday can decrease LDL cholesterol by 10-15%.

Phytosterol Content of Food

Food Serving Size Approximate
Whole grain barley 100 grams 125 mg
Whole grain rye 100 grams 112 mg
Wheat germ ½ cup 237 mg
Whole wheat 100 grams 20.2 mg
Almonds 1 ounce 56 mg
Pistachios 1 ounce 79 mg
Sesame seeds 1 ounce 113 mg
Flax seed (ground) 2 tablespoon 26 mg
Cauliflower ½ cup 25 mg

Dietary fiber: These are plant parts that do not break down in the digestive tract but instead pass through undigested. Plants are the only source of dietary fiber and they contain soluble and insoluble fibers. Dietary fiber does not carry nutritive value, but it is important for maintaining your digestive tract and health.

Soluble fiber: Soluble fibers absorb water and form a gel which delays the passage of food in the stomach and intestine imparting a feeling of "fullness." A slower emptying of the stomach also causes a slow and steady raise in blood glucose levels that aids in weight management. It also blocks the absorption of dietary cholesterol and helps to lower blood cholesterol levels. Adding 5-10 grams per day of soluble fiber brings about a 3-5% reduction in cholesterol levels.

Insoluble fiber: Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and also passes through the digestive tract undigested. It helps to maintain the pH balance in intestines and aids in regular bowel movements. It also helps in removing toxins from the body and decreasing the risk of developing colon cancer.

Soluble fiber Insoluble fiber
Oats, barley, millet, quinoa,, spelt, wild rice etc Whole grains, wheat wheat, whole bran, brown rice, barley, oats, spelt etc
Legumes such as peas and beans Legumes such as black eyed peas, chick peas, most lentils.
Grains & seeds like lentils, flax seeds, chia seeds, Nuts: Brazil nuts, Chest nuts, Coconuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios, pine nuts etc
Fruits such as apples, strawberries, blueberries, pears Seeds: Flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, quinoa
Vegetables like celery, carrots, cucumbers Fruits and vegetables.

Ways to Lower High Cholesterol Through Food

• Limit cholesterol-rich foods such as processed, baked goods, cookies, and animal products.

• If you like eating meat, switch to healthier options such as lean meat, fish and skim milk. If it is possible to switch to plant-based foods go for it, as studies have shown that switching to a plant-based diet significantly decreases blood cholesterol levels.

• Boost your antioxidant intake by consuming a variety of plant-based foods such as nuts, seeds, legumes, grains, fruits and vegetables.

• Try to include foods rich in plant sterols such as nuts and seeds, which are also naturally good sources of fiber. Consume a variety of mixed nuts for added benefits.

Apart from dietary changes it is also necessary to be active for at least 30 minutes per day. Physical activity may include brisk walking, jogging, cycling, kayaking, hiking and so on. If you are diagnosed with high cholesterol it is also important to visit with your physician for regular blood work to periodically monitor your blood cholesterol levels.

Interesting Cholesterol facts

• Your brain can use up to 25% of body's total cholesterol in order to function.

• The liver is responsible for cholesterol production by the body.

• Plants do not contain cholesterol, animal sources do.

Neuroprotectors in Our Food

Gregg Carroll - Sunday, April 21, 2013

According to a 2010 report on neurodegenerative diseases, every year more than 10 million people suffer from neurodegenerative diseases globally, and this figure is expected to grow by 20% over the next decade. Pharmaceutical-based research reveals that the market for this sector is estimated at reaching $20 billion by 2014. For more than a decade, researchers have been looking at ways to prevent neurodegenerative diseases that will ultimately place a heavy burden on our health care system. These statistics are certainly not welcome news in an era of such tremendous technological advancement.

Neurodegenerative diseases are a group of progressive nerve disorders that damage or destroy the function of neurons. Various alternatives have been explored to find side-effect-free prevention and treatment methods for these diseases that threaten active living. Neuroprotectors that exist in our food is one such niche that has recently captured the attention of scientists and neurologists. Neuroprotectors are essentially nerve protecting nutrients and natural compounds that have play a role in preventing neurodegenerative diseases.

What Does a Neuroprotector Do?

Neuroprotection is a concept in neuroscience research that suggests that specific factors such as diet and lifestyle changes can offer protection to nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s are likely to have many causes, but studies suggest that dietary factors also play a significant role in protection from nerve degenerative conditions.

Most neuroprotectors in food are antioxidants or anti-inflammatory agents that offer protection from degenerative conditions by repressing trigger factors. Abundant evidence indicates that chronic inflammatory conditions play a predominant role in the development of neurodegenerative conditions. Extensive research over the last decade has indicated that certain foods and their nutrient components target the inflammatory pathways and thereby offer protective benefits from neurodegenerative diseases.

Food Neuroprotectors

Certain foods have long been in use among certain cultures for their profound neuroprotective abilities. These include, herbs, spices, seeds, and other plant parts. These foods have been incorporated into their daily menu in order to promote nerve and brain health. Some examples are spices, such as turmeric (curcumin), cinnamon, condiments like ginger and garlic, and herbs such as holy basil. The positive effects that these foods have in common include:

• Potent antioxidant activity

• Anti-inflammatory activity

• Anti-proliferative effect

What Do You Need for Better Brain and Nerve Health?

1. Sulfur-containing aminoacids: Sulfur is an important mineral component in protein-rich foods. The trace mineral sulfur is present in the aminoacids taurine, methionine, glutathione and cysteine. Sulfur is primarily stored in the brain and nerves, and the rest in the liver, nails and skin. Rich plant source of sulfur-containing aminoacids are kale, wheat germ, brussel sprouts, garlic, onions legumes and beans.

2. Phenylalanine rich foods: Phenylalanine is an essential aminoacid present in most plant foods. Phenylalanine is required for producing three vital chemical messengers in the brain. Phenylalanine is converted into tyrosine in the brain, which helps produce epinephrine, norepinephrine and levodopa. Deficiency of phenylalanine leads to fatigue, depression and Parkinson's disease. Most nuts, especially almonds, seeds, soy, asparagus, peas, lentils (chick peas, black beans, adzuki beans, red lentils, and mung beans are rich sources of this nutrient.

3. Tryptophan rich foods: Tryptophan is a precursor of two important compounds, melatonin and serotonin, that induce calmness and promote sleep. Melatonin helps to regulate the circadian cycle, and serotonin influences sleep, calmness, and appetite. Low levels of tryptophan are said to cause migraines, sleeplessness, hyperactivity in children and inflammation. Rich food sources include whole grains such as brown rice (providing nearly 20%), oats (25%), barley (40%) and beans such as kidney, black, navy, and chick peas.

4. Polyphenol rich foods: Polyphenols are the magic antioxidant compounds that are one of nature's powerful tools in fighting off free radical damage. Whole grains, legumes, unrefined plant foods, fruits and vegetables are rich source of polyphenols. Others include bitter astringent plant foods such as pomegranates, onions, and green tea.

5. Vitamin E rich foods: This fat soluble vitamin is well-known to prevent and heal nerve damage. Diabetic patients are encouraged to consume vitamin E rich foods and are prescribed vitamin E rich supplements as they are susceptible to nerve damage. Sunflower seeds, almonds, pine nuts, pea nuts, dried herbs, olives, wheat germ, whole wheat grain, broccoli, bell peppers, collard, kale, spinach, dried apricots, tropical fruits like papaya and kiwi are some of nature's best vitamin E sources.

6. B vitamin rich foods: Vitamins, B6 and folic acid are popular nutrients in nerve health. They help maintain the key metabolic processes, calm the nerves and support adrenal function. B6 in particular is necessary for production of neurotransmitters, and is involved in preventing depression and premenstrual syndrome. Folic acid is used widely in the treatment of macular degeneration of the eyes, Alzheimer's disease, depression, sleep problems, and nerve pain. Folic acid is given as a supplement for pregnant women as it is crucial for the development of the neural tube in a fetus. Most dark greens, beans, nuts and seeds are rich in B vitamins.

7. Essential fats: These are polyunsaturated fats that are needed for essential brain function, hormonal function, and normal metabolism. Besides maintaining nerve health, they also promote heart health and prevent strokes. The brain requires omega-3 essential fats that are present in nuts, seeds, algae, and cold water fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel. The omega-3 fat ALA is abundant in plant sources such as nuts, and seeds. The human body converts ALA to another omega–3 fat EPA by adding two carbon atoms. Studies show that the conversion is efficient, however conversion of EPA to DHA is not and is largely depend on enzymes. If a given diet is high in omega-6 fats, there is a competition for these enzymes in the body, and consequently there is a poor conversion rate to DHA. Most recommendations therefore are to restrict omega-6 fats in the diet and increase the ALA-rich omega-3 fats. Another way to boost DHA is to consume algal supplements that are naturally high in DHA. According to Dr. Neal Bernard, if a diet is predominantly plant-based with nuts, fruits, vegetables, legumes and beans the food automatically provides an ideal 2:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega 3.

8. Include herbs and spices: Turmeric is a potent antioxidant spice that also has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial effects. The compound curcuminoid is responsible for the yellow hue and nerve protective benefits of turmeric. Add a pinch to your recipes such as lentil soup, broth, gravies, vegetable preparation and rice dishes. Another important herb that has captured attention is the holy basil (called Tulsi) which has been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and antioxidant benefits. Thyme, oregano and scores of other herbs and condiments used in small quantities can have great protective benefits to you body.

Other Ways to Shield Your Nerves and Brain From Damage

Refrain from consuming meat: Study after study clearly indicates that meat contains saturated fat and cholesterol which increases the chance of Alzheimer's disease and stroke.

Steer clear of fish: Fish does contain omega-3 but it also comes with high cholesterol, as well as toxic contaminants which are all the more dangerous for nerve health. Dr. Neal Bernard in his book Power Foods For the Brain warns that many fish species are fatty, with only 15-30% of the required omega-3 fats with the remaining 70-85% a blend of saturated and unsaturated fats. A eighteen-month old study on fish oil supplementation among patients with Alzheimer's showed no benefits.

Avoid too much omega-6 fats: Omega-6 fats compete for carbon atoms, hinder the efficient conversion of ALA to DHA, and thereby the activity of omega-3.

Say no to high fructose corn syrup, refined carbohydrates and trans fats: High fructose corn syrup lurks everywhere, in bread, flavored drinks, certain canned foods, fruit juices, jellies and so on. The hydrogenated oil in processed and deep fried foods are strongly inflammatory.

Nutrient Importance Food
Sulfur containing foods. Synthesis of nerve protectors. onions, kale, legumes, beans
Phenylalanine rich foods. Produces chemical messengers. seeds, almonds, chick peas, adzuki, red lentils
Tryptophan rich foods. Promotes sleep, calms and maintains appetite. brown rice, barley, whole grains
Polyphenols Antioxidant effects. green tea, dark greens, whole grains, legumes, pomegranates, astringent tasting foods
Vitamin E Antioxidant, prevents nerve damage, used in treatment of depression. sunflower seeds, almonds, pine nuts, pea nuts, dried herbs, olives, wheat germ, whole wheat grain
Vitamin B Production of neurotransmitters , supports adrenal function, relieves stress. most dark greens, beans, nuts and seeds
Essential fats. Normal metabolism and brain function. rich availability in nuts and seeds as ALA, small amounts in fruits and vegetables.

Apart from the above mentioned nutrients there are several others present in natural foods that play a role in maintaining good nerve health. In addition, it is also necessary to adhere to a regular exercise schedule and de-stress through meditation and a good night's rest.

Best Sources of Non-dairy Calcium

Phil Pelanne - Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Recent research has underscored the negative effects of consuming animal products in human health. This also includes milk and dairy products which are a dietary staple in the Western diet. For nearly a decade we have been led to believe milk and dairy products are the richest source of calcium available. The credit for this goes to the National Dairy Council which has worked for many years to lay this strong foundation through sponsored research and false claims. Modern science has shown that this information is outdated, misleading, and has proven that dairy products do more harm than good.

Studies show that calcium from milk is not well absorbed or used by the body. Furthermore, milk and milk products are high in oxidized cholesterol, high in protein, hormones and antibiotics. When it comes to choosing calcium from natural food sources, the choices are plentiful, and come with the added benefits of better immune function and protection from degenerative diseases. Plant sources are the best sources of calcium which our bodies can absorb and utilize completely without having to deal with the presence of growth hormones, antibiotics, and high cholesterol. The good news about plant-based calcium is that there are a variety of ways one can include dietary calcium from non-dairy sources that are tasty and easy to incorporate. Here are some of nature's best sources of calcium that the human body can absorb and effectively utilize.


Chia seeds: Chia seeds were a component of the diet of ancient civilizations – Aztecs and Mayans. They are one of nature's richest sources of calcium. The best part is that they are rich in essential fats – omega-3 and omega-6 as well. Chia seeds can be easily incorporated to our everyday meals, such as oatmeal, cereals, salsa, dips, and smoothies.

Sesame seeds: Sesame seeds are the oldest known condiment. Sesame seeds are used in a variety of Asian dishes and add a characteristic nutty flavor. Besides being a good source of calcium they are also abundant in copper, magnesium, manganese, and zinc that are useful in bone-building, as well as iron and vitamin B1. An ounce of hulled sesame seeds provides 15 mg of calcium, the un-hulled variety (black) provide 265 mg. Tahini butter (2 tablespoon) provides 128 mg.


Almonds: Almonds are not only rich in calcium, but they are a powerhouse of antioxidants. Additional benefits include the lowering of high blood cholesterol and promoting heart health.

Walnuts: Calcium in walnuts occurs in combination with several phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Walnuts are also called 'brain foods,' as calcium and the essential fat (omega-3) are also present. These two nutrients are vital for maintaining cognitive as well as nerve health.

Dark Greens

All dark green vegetables and leaves are remarkably high in calcium content. Examples include broccoli, kale, bok choy, and spinach. They are plentiful in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients which pack added health advantages with fewer calories.

Below are a collection of calcium-rich plant foods that can help you create a menu plan rich in calcium. Try to consume at least three calcium-rich foods a day while enjoying variety in your diet.

Food Portion Calcium (mg)
Garbanzo beans (chick peas)
Edamame beans (soy)

1 cup
1 cup
1 slice (84 g)

80.4 mg
97.6 mg
26.9 mg
Nut Butters
Almond butter
Cashew Butter
Sunflower seed butter

2 Tbsp.
2 Tbsp.
2 Tbsp.
2 Tbsp.

111 mg
128 mg
13.8 mg
39.0 mg
Whole Nuts

1 oz (28 g)
1 oz.
1 oz.
1 oz.
1 oz.

73.9 mg
10.4 mg
27.4 mg
23.8 mg
19.6 mg
Dark Greens
Bean sprouts
Mustard greens
Turnip greens

1 cup
1 cup
1 cup
1 cup
1 cup
1 cup

330 mg
250 mg
320 mg
260 mg
450 mg
450 mg
Dried Fruits
Dried apricots
Dried figs

3 oz.
3 oz.

80 mg
100 mg
Raw Kale 1 cup 90.5 mg

The "Calcium Paradox"

The National Institute of Health (NIH) recommends that adult males consume 1000 mg of calcium per day and women 1200 mg of calcium per day. It should be noted that these recommendations are based on calcium availability from a Standard American Diet (SAD) that consists of meat, meat products, refined grains and sugar. The dietary availability of calcium from a western diet is questionable, and hence the need for high calcium intake.

On the other hand, many epidemiological studies, including the famous China Study, reports that the calcium intake of populations that consume largely a plant-based diets is relatively low when compared to Western populations. The study stated that the average calcium consumption among the Chinese population was 544 mg per day as opposed to the average consumption of 1143 mg per day by the U.S. population. Although calcium is important for bone health, these studies indicate that we may not need high quantities of dietary calcium for optimal bone health. The evidence is strengthened by the relative absence of osteoporosis and other bone diseases among the Chinese population considering of the amount of calcium they consume per day.

Another important point is that the source of calcium plays a critical role in influencing the absorption and utilization of this nutrient. WHO calls this the "calcium paradox," and states that to date, the accumulated data indicates that the adverse effect of protein, specifically animal protein, not vegetable, might outweigh the positive effects of calcium intake on calcium balance. The report of the joint FAO/WHO consultation on vitamin and mineral requirements makes it clear that the requirements for calcium might vary from culture to culture for dietary, genetic, lifestyle and geographical reasons.

Currently there is little research available on the bone health of vegans, and until more evidence emerges, many health experts recommend it is best to adhere to the current recommended intakes for calcium. While looking for calcium specific foods, non-dairy sources are the most healthy and effective way to achieve a positive calcium balance and excellent bone health.

Here is a sample menu that provides a total of 1654.9 mg of calcium per day.

Breakfast — 111 milligrams of calcium

Toasted whole grain bread with 2 tablespoon of almond butter

Mid-morning snack — 770 milligrams of calcium

LRF Dried figs – 5 each 770 mg

Lunch — 426.15 milligrams of calcium

Tempeh with brown rice with tahini sauce

½ cup brown rice 31.35 mg

½ cup tempeh 107.6 mg

¼ cup Tahini sauce 256 mg

½ cup broccoli (steamed) 31.2 mg

Snack — 175 milligrams of calcium

A cup of Edamame (soy beans) cooked

Dinner — 172.75 milligrams of calcium

Spinach - Lentil soup

¼ cup dry lentils 4.75 mg

Half of spinach bunch 168 mg

Tips To Improve Absorption and
Utilization of Dietary Calcium

Exercise: At least 30-40 minutes of brisk walking helps to build bone with calcium.

Sensible sun exposure: Vitamin D is vital for calcium absorption and use in the body. Just 15 minutes of sunlight exposure* (without sunblock) is enough for the body to make its own vitamin D.

Eat fresh: Consume freshly prepared meals whenever possible, choosing raw foods such as salads, mixed nuts for snacks.

Variety: Choose to eat a variety of foods that provide you with a mix of minerals and vitamins that aid in calcium absorption and utilization in the body.

*Please note that if you are going to be outdoors longer than 15 minutes, it is advised to use a sunblock to prevent skin cancer.

Milk Calcium: The Untold Story

Gregg Carroll - Tuesday, April 16, 2013

For many years now, milk has been considered synonymous with calcium and we have been taught that drinking milk promotes stronger bones. This incorrect idea has been reinforced to such an extent that we believe that a diet without milk is unhealthy and may lead to a severe calcium deficiency, and that inadequate dairy consumption leads to poor bone health and osteoporosis.

About Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease that causes the loss of bone tissue. Bones become weak, and people are more likely to break bones in the hip, spine, and wrist. According to the data from the NIH Osteoporosis National Resource Center, in the U.S., more than 40 million people either already have osteoporosis or are at high risk for developing it. However, if dairy can promote bone health as claimed, why are so many suffering from osteoporosis? It is time to take another look at the facts presented on milk.

Dairy Intake and Osteoporosis

Many factors such as age, smoking, alcoholism, gender, etc. play a role in the etiology of this disease, however nutritional factors have been of particular interest to researchers. They point out that osteoporosis is not only associated with low calcium intake, but also to other nutritional factors that result in the excessive urinary loss of calcium. They include high intake of animal protein, steroids, antibiotics, growth hormones (dairy and meat sources), caffeine and alcohol. Furthermore, besides calcium there are 19 other nutrients that are necessary for the process of bone building and maintenance. Unless these nutrients are present in our diet, consuming calcium rich foods will not be of much use to bone health.

Key Bone Building Nutrients

Calcium • Phosphorus • Chromium • Silica • Zinc

Manganese • Copper • Magnesium • Boron • Potassium

Vitamin D • Vitamin A

Epidemiological data indicates that the incidence of age-related bone loss, osteoporosis, and fractures were many times higher among the Western population than in Asian and African populations. Statistics from WHO show that osteoporosis is common in those countries that are high dairy producers and consumers (the U.S., Finland, Sweden and the U.K.). It should be noted that the intake of animal protein among these populations is also considerably higher than the Asian and African populations. If milk can promote excellent bone health, the incidence of osteoporosis should be absent or lower among dairy consumers, but statistics reveal the opposite.

Present Research On Dairy and Osteoporosis

Nutritional research as early as the 1970's showed that milk may not be a healthy drink for humans. Today, modern science has consistently proved that dairy has little effect on decreasing the incidence of osteoporosis, and studies on postmenopausal women have shown that calcium intake has little effect on bone density. According to a publication in Science magazine, there exists a large body of evidence indicating there is no association between calcium intake and bone density. The 2005 issue of the Journal of Pediatrics concludes that there is scant evidence that increasing milk or other dairy products aid in bone mineralization among children and adolescents.

Milk Calcium Facts

Dairy does not protect from osteoporosis: Acidity introduced by milk and milk products cause calcium loss, and despite its high calcium content, cow's milk is shown to promote osteoporosis and hip fractures.The incidence of osteoporosis is highest in countries that are chief dairy producers.

Milk an acid former: The sulfur-based aminoacids present in milk and other animal products promote urinary acid production and as a result significant amounts of calcium are lost in urine while neutralizing the acidity. When the acidity levels increase, our body automatically uses calcium (the alkaline reserve) to neutralize this effect. This results in leaching out of calcium from the bones to the blood and subsequent excretion in urine.

Calcium from milk is less absorbed by the body: Only 25% of calcium from cow's milk is absorbed by the body. On the other hand, absorption of calcium from dark greens such as kale, turnips, and sesame seeds is relatively higher.

Not a healthy calcium source: Milk is a source of an oxidized form of cholesterol which causes plaques and atherosclerosis. It is also a medium for growth hormones, antibiotics, virus and bacteria to reach the body. Studies have shown that long term consumption of milk leads to conditions of senile cataracts and gout in later stages of life.

Constipation: Milk calcium is one cause of constipation among Western populations besides the low intake of fruits and vegetables. The reason being, the muscles in the lower intestine cannot contract efficiently to propel the waste material out of the body due to the presence of excess calcium in their cells. An article in the journal of the American Medical Association (1974) confirms that cow's milk is one food that causes constipation. A cross over study that compared the effects of cow's milk and rice milk on children showed that there was a clear association between cow's milk and constipation in nearly one-third of children.

Other problems: Other problems associated with milk consumption include gastritis, ulceritis, chronic inflammation, allergies, nasal congestion, and ear infections.

Why is a Plant-Based Diet the Best Way to Build Bone?

Despite its rich calcium content, cow's milk is associated with osteoporosis, allergies and inflammation. The calcium package in milk comes with high protein and acidity, which triggers unwanted calcium loss from the bones. Choosing healthier alternatives of calcium such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts are recommended by health researchers. Major research journals have encouraged the idea of consuming non-dairy calcium sources such as legumes and nuts for preventing osteoporosis. Here is why plant-based food is better source of calcium and a best way to build your bones:

Alkaline forming: Although rich in protein, plant foods are not acid forming. The alkaline forming ability of wholesome and natural plant foods enhances the calcium absorbability as well as retaining bone calcium. This prevents urinary loss of calcium and also reduces the heavy demand for calcium in the body.

Ideal calcium-magnesium ratio: Consuming a variety of plant-based foods provides an ideal calcium-magnesium ratio of 2:1 that aids in optimal calcium absorption, whereas milk does not offer this ratio resulting in poor calcium absorption in the diet.

Bone-building nutrients: Plants are a natural source of bone-building nutrients such as boron, vitamin A, folic acid and strontium that are necessary for healthy bone formation. Milk is a poor source of most of the bone-building nutrients and therefore is not a good osteoporosis fighting food.

Safe source: Plant-based foods are a safer source of calcium as they are free of steroids, growth hormones and antibiotics. In addition, most plant proteins are less acid forming.

Non-allergenic: Whole, natural plant-based foods are anti-inflammatory and do not trigger allergic reactions like dairy foods can.

Healthy body weight: Plant-based unprocessed foods promote healthier body weight in normal as well as obese individuals. This huge advantage comes from the dietary fiber present in plant foods that helps normalize body weight.

Bone Health is More Than Just Calcium

Maintaining bone health depends on many factors and calcium is only one of them. In order to maintain bone health it is essential to stay physically active, get enough exposure to sunlight for vitamin D, eat a variety of natural plant-based mineral resources, and steer clear of refined and processed foods. It is proven that individuals that consume a high amount of plant-based foods such as fruits, legumes, beans, nuts and green vegetables have a higher bone density than animal-based food consumers. Plant-based foods with their high nutrient density and potential to protect against many diseases are no doubt a better choice for bone building and protecting against osteoporosis. The key is to consume a wide variety of foods to gain the best of health.

Discover the Antioxidant Arsenal in Your Pantry

Gregg Carroll - Tuesday, April 16, 2013

For many years there has been a lot of hype about antioxidants. Thanks to the media and health discussion, a lot of awareness has been generated about these important compounds and their role in our health. Antioxidants are touted as having multiple health benefits ranging from disease prevention to fighting off premature aging.

What Are Antioxidants?

“Antioxidants,” as the name suggests, act against the process of oxidation in our bodies. Normal tasks such as breathing, digestion, exercise, and so forth generate byproducts called free radicals. These free radicals have an important job; they scavenge for dead cells and eliminate them from our bodies. However, there is the possibility that free radicals will take on healthy cells and damage them. This is called free radical damage, or oxidative damage. Free radical damage is implicated in many disease conditions such as heart problems, cancer, diabetes, premature aging and many more. Our bodies have their own antioxidant defense system to combat the excess free radicals, but it also takes the help of dietary antioxidants to effectively neutralize free radical damage.

The generation of free radicals increases by:

• Excess consumption of processed or refined foods

• Increased consumption of meat and other animal products

• Pollution

• Stress

• Sleeplessness

• Decreased consumption of natural foods

• Strenuous exercise

Sources of Dietary Antioxidants

Antioxidants are not exclusive to exotic fruits and expensive dietary supplements, you can find these compounds in most of the natural and wholesome foods that you stock in the kitchen. There is no better way to include antioxidants everyday in our diet than through simple recipes. Here are some surprising nutrient-dense foods sitting right in your pantry that are super-rich in a spectrum of antioxidants:

Oats: Oats are often praised for their soluble fiber content, but their antioxidant profile is barely ever mentioned. They are good source of more than 20 unique polyphenols, avenanthramides that show strong antioxidant effect. They are also well-known for their beta-glucan content which show heart protective benefits. These polyphenolic compounds are anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative, exhibit anti-itching effects, and are suggested to have protective effect against skin irritation, colon cancer and heart diseases.

Nuts: Nuts are unique in that they pack in all the major nutrients as well as micronutrients, including beneficial antioxidants, inside their crunchy structure. Nuts are considered one of the best plant sources with a high content of total antioxidants. Walnuts, for instance, contain more than 20 mmol antioxidants per 100 grams, and they rank first among all other nuts for their antioxidant components.

Cinnamon: The compound cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon is a potent antioxidant, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory agent. Laboratory animal studies have shown that cinnamon aids in increasing the activity of the body's own antioxidant enzyme system.

Beans and lentils: Chick peas, fava beans, black beans, kidney beans and lentils are known to be power houses of antioxidants. A study published by the Journal of Food Science, it was found that lentils and black beans are among the top antioxidant containing legumes. They are rich sources of anthocyanin which is a powerful flavonoid compound commonly found in blueberries. When choosing lentils, avoid canned lentils as the processing of canned foods destroys important phytonutrients.

Seeds: Seeds are densely packed with many beneficial compounds. A handful of sunflower seeds provides an excellent antioxidant punch comprising of chlorogenic compounds, tocohpehrols, caffeic acd, ferulic, myricetin and rutin compounds. Sesame seeds contain the antioxidants sesamolinol and sesamino that bolster our body's antioxidant defense. Chia seeds provide quercetin, caffeic acid, chlorogenic acids that exhibit anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effect in many studies.

Herbs: Herbs are another excellent way to add antioxidants to our every day meals. In a study that analyzed the antioxidant capacity of 425 spices and herbs, the following culinary herbs topped the antioxidant list: about a gram (approximately ½ teaspoon) of cloves will provide more antioxidants than consuming ½ cup of blueberries or cranberries; about ½ teaspoon of oregano contains the same amount of antioxidants as ½ cup of sweet potatoes. The authors of the study suggested that spices such as cloves, oregano, allspice, sage, thyme etc added in fresh and dried form to dishes contribute to significant antioxidant activity.

Nature provides a bounty of life protecting antioxidants, and there is incresing evidence that while on a plant-based diet, it is easier to boost our antioxidant content in our meals. However, the effect can be augmented only when we consume a diverse range of plant foods. A heart warming lentil soup, a simple brown rice pilaf cooked with spices and herbs, a quick breakfast with oats topped with a variety of nuts and seeds, or a calming herbal tea can do the trick of including a spectrum of antioxidants. It is encouraging to see that we have all our antioxidant tools right in our kitchens to help us combat diseases, fight off premature aging, and boost our immune systems.

So next time you decide to pick that expensive, hyped antioxidant supplement, take a moment to peek into your pantry. It will certainly save you money and is also the best place to get your antioxidants, instead of from your medicine cabinet or a pharmacy shelf.

Basic Lentil Soup

4 Tbsp. Love Raw Foods™ red lentils

1 onion

a pinch of dried oregano

a pinch of dried rosemary

1 tsp. garlic, minced

1 tomato, chopped

water, as needed

1 tsp. olive oil

1 medium carrot, chopped

1 bay leaf

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup chopped spinach/kale, optional

¼ tsp. turmeric powder, optional (the curcumin in turmeric is a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial agent.)

*There are no hard and fast rules, this is just a basic recipe you can scale up more antioxidant ingredients, the key is to include a variety and a spectrum of antioxidants for maximum benefits.

In a medium saucepan, cook the lentils with enough water, cover and cook for 10 minutes while still boiling.

In another saucepan saute the onions, garlic, tomatoes and carrot until softened.

Add in the vegetable mixture and allow to cook for another 10 minutes.

Once the soup thickens, add the herbs, salt and pepper, if need be add more water if the soup turns too thick.


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