Why did I start this blog? I have been having episodes of inflammation in my hands and fingers, feet and toes, and joints for some time now. I’ve consulted the doctor and have had tests done. It’s not rheumatoid arthritis and my uric acid is normal (tho at times borderline normal). In an effort to determine which food triggers the inflammation, I have been systematically eliminating certain foods from my diet and then bringing them back. After several years, I have now come to the conclusion that I seem to be reacting to animal protein in general (like some sort of allergic reaction). Different animal proteins affect me to different degrees; some cause inflammation faster than others. So I have decided to reduce my intake of meat. No, I am not going vegetarian; maybe semi-vegetarian if there is such a thing. I will be adding interesting and not too difficult recipes here as I find them. I will also include arthritis management tips that have worked for me.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

How to have a PERF-ect day

I read an article from Reader’s Digest (July 2010 issue) and I thought I’d share with you these four things that you should monitor daily to make sure that you are living healthy.

Produce (fresh) – the amount of fruits and vegetables you ate that day

Exercise – whether you walked and were active

Relaxation – whether you got at least 15 minutes of laughter and fun time for yourself

Fiber – whether you got enough beans, grains, and other high-fiber foods

If you can say you did well on all four, your day has been extremely healthy.

(Needless to say, this doesn’t apply if you spent the rest of the day, say, drinking, smoking and eating chocolate).

Source: Reader's Digest July 2010 "10 Easy Ways to Be Your Own Doctor"

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fish is good for you

They say that eating fish is good for you. To find out more about the health benefits of eating fish I decided to google it. Here are some of the things I found.

Fish is low in fat, high in protein and an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids. Researchers worldwide have discovered that eating fish regularly – one or two serves weekly – may reduce the risk of diseases ranging from childhood asthma to prostate cancer. Healthy ways to enjoy fish include baked, poached, grilled and steamed.

Health benefits of eating fish

Regular consumption of fish can reduce the risk of various diseases and disorders. Selected research findings include:

• Asthma – children who eat fish may be less likely to develop asthma.

• Brain and eyes – fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids can contribute to the health of brain tissue and the retina (the back of the eye).

• Cardiovascular disease – eating fish every week reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke by reducing blood clots and inflammation, improving blood vessel elasticity, lowering blood pressure, lowering blood fats and boosting ‘good’ cholesterol.

• Dementia – elderly people who eat fish or seafood at least once a week may have a lower risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer's disease.

• Depression – people who regularly eat fish have a lower incidence of depression (depression is linked to low levels of omega 3 fatty acids in the brain).

• Diabetes – fish may help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels.

• Eyesight – breastfed babies of mothers who eat fish have better eyesight, perhaps due to the omega 3 fatty acids transmitted in breast milk.

• Inflammatory conditions – regular fish consumption may relieve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and autoimmune disease.

• Prematurity – eating fish during pregnancy may help reduce the risk of delivering a premature baby.

Fish oil reduces risk of heart disease

Hundreds of studies have been done on fish or fish oils and their role in the prevention or treatment of heart disease. A review in the British Medical Journal recommends fish or fish oil supplements to prevent heart attacks, particularly in people with vascular disease. How omega-3 fats reduce heart disease is not known, but they are known to lower blood triglycerides and blood pressure, prevent clotting, are anti-inflammatory and reduce abnormal heart rhythms.

Source: Health benefits of eating fish

So here are some fish recipes that seem easy enough to prepare. Remember, the healthy ways of preparing fish are baking, poaching, grilling and steaming.

Fish Soft Tacos with Pico De Gallo-Black Bean Sauce


  • 6 ounces cooked fish, such as baked cod
  • 4 flour tortillas
  • 1/2 cup pico de gallo
  • 1 can black beans , drained
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Mixed stir fried vegetables, recipe below
  • Lime wedges


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat fish and all 4 tortillas in a stack and wrapped in foil on a baking sheet for 8 to 10 minutes.

In a bowl, combine pico de gallo, beans, sour cream and cumin.

Arrange fish on tortillas and top with pico de gallo-black bean sauce and mixed stir fried vegetables. Serve with a lime wedge on the side.

Mixed Stir-Fried Vegetables

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced red onion
  • 1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and spears cut into 2-inch pieces

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, bell peppers, and asparagus and saute 3 to 5 minutes, until soft.

Source: Fish Soft Tacos with Pico De Gallo-Black Bean Sauce

Pecan Alaska Salmon Bake


2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon honey 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets or steaks


Heat oven to 400°F.

Blend mustard, butter and honey in a small bowl set aside.

Mix bread crumbs, pecans and parsley in another small bowl set aside.

Season salmon to taste with salt and pepper. Place on a nonstick or vegetable spray-coated baking dish. Brush salmon with mustard-honey mixture. Pat bread crumbs onto top surface of salmon.

Bake for 10 minutes per inch of thickness or until salmon flakes easily with a fork.

Source: Pecan Alaska Salmon Bake

EJ's Favorite Fish Pouches for Mom


  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless fish fillets, such as snapper, black bass, or bronzino
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Emeril's Italian Essence, or other dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Halved and pitted kalamata olives, optional


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Season the fish fillets on both sides lightly with salt and pepper.

On a work surface, lay out 6 (15-inch) square pieces of aluminum foil. Divide the onion and tomato slices evenly among the centers of the foil squares and season lightly with salt, pepper, and Italian Essence. Place 1 fish fillet over the top of each mound of vegetables and sprinkle the tops of the fillets with the Italian Essence. Divide the lemon slices among the fillets. Drizzle each fillet with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and sprinkle with kalamata olives, if desired. Fold foil pouches up carefully, sealing tightly on all edges, and place pouches on a large baking sheet. Bake the pouches until fillets are just cooked through and the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve immediately. Be careful to avoid the hot steam when opening the pouches.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Steamed Fish with Ginger


1 (1-inch) piece ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
6 scallions, sliced
4 (6-ounce) firm white fish fillets (such as striped bass or halibut)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
Pinch of sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1/3 pound snow peas, trimmed2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil


Set a large bamboo or metal steamer basket over a skillet of simmering water over medium heat.

Crush the ginger slices with the flat side of a knife. Place the garlic and half each of the ginger and scallions on a plate that will fit inside the steamer. Score the fish skin a few times with a knife; season with salt and pepper. Place the fish skin-side up on the plate, drizzle with 2 teaspoons sesame oil and sprinkle with the sugar. Put the plate in the steamer. Mix the soy sauce and rice wine and pour over the fish.

Cover and steam the fish until just cooked through, 6 to 12 minutes, depending on the thickness. Carefully remove the hot plate. Add the snow peas to the steamer, season with salt, cover and cook until bright green, 1 to 2 minutes.

Transfer the fish to a platter, spoon the juices on top and sprinkle with the remaining scallions. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons sesame oil and the peanut oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the remaining ginger and cook until it begins to brown. Pour the hot oil over the fish.

Mustard-Roasted Fish


  • 4 (8-ounce) fish fillets such as red snapper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces creme fraiche
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 teaspoons drained capers


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. (You can also use an ovenproof baking dish.) Place the fish fillets skin side down on the sheet pan. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

Combine the creme fraiche, 2 mustards, shallots, capers, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Spoon the sauce evenly over the fish fillets, making sure the fish is completely covered. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish, until it's barely done. (The fish will flake easily at the thickest part when it's done.) Be sure not to overcook it! Serve hot or at room temperature with the sauce from the pan spooned over the top.

Source: Mustard-Roasted Fish

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Herbal teas

Here are three herbal teas that I've tried that seemed to help lessen the frequency of flare-ups. I prepare the teas and keep them in the refrigerator and drink them throughout the day like I would drink water. I usually just drink them plain but you may want to add some honey for sweetness or a squeeze of lemon for extra flavor. I also included some information that I gathered about the plants.

Tanglad (Lemon grass)

Tanglad (Andropogon citratus DC.), also known as lemon grass or citronella, is a popular ingredient in herbal teas and herbal soaps. It is highly regarded as a flavoring to enhance the taste of food. It is traditionally used to help reduce blood pressure and improve circulation, in reducing fevers, to help in flatulence, for the relief of arthritic pain and rheumatism and as a sedative and anti-emetic. Studies have shown that lemon grass possesses antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-carcinogenic properties.

Tufted and perennial grass. Leaves grow to a length of up to 1 meter, about 1-1.5 cm wide, scabrous, flate, long-acuminate, and smooth. Panicles0 are 30-80 cm long, with noding branches and branchlets. Spikelets are linear-lanceolate and pointed, about 6 mm long.

Cultivated commercially for its fragrant leaves.

Chemical constituents and characteristics
Distillation yields lemon-grass oil, verbena and Indian Molissa oil. The oils are reddish-yellow with an intense odor and taste of lemons. Plant contains small amounts of methyl heptenone and terpenes (limonene and dipentene). Contains citral, an aldehyde found in lemon peel oil and other natural essential oils. Carminative, tonic, stimulant, diuretic, purgative, sudorific.

Parts utilized: Leaves

Folkloric Uses

For Diarrhea: Boil 10 leaves in 2 glasses of water for 10 minutes; add a tablespoon of sugar and one small piece of crushed ginger.

For adults: 1 cup, 3 times daily and after each loose bowel movement.

Children: (Babies) 1 tablespoon 3 times daily and after each loose bowel movement; 2-6 years, 1/4 cup 3 times daily and after each loose bowel movement; 7-12 years, 1/2 cup three times daily and after each loose bowel movement.

Suob: One of the 10 herbal ingredients in the decoction/bath in the post-partum ritual of suob.

Hot decoction of roots for toothaches. Roots also used as a diuretic.

The oil, mixed with equal amounts of coconut oil, is used as a liniment for back pains, rheumatic complains, neuralgia, sprains and other painful afflictions.

Decoction of leaves used as stomachic, diuretic, and refrigerant.

In Cuban folk medicine, used to lower blood pressure and as anti-inflammatory.

In Brazil, used as sedative, for gastrointestinal maladies, and as febrifuge.

In Malaya, used as a potion after childbirth.

In various folk medicinal use: oil used for cough, cold, hemoptysis, rheumatism, back pain, bladder problems

Culinary Uses

· Commonly used as a stuffing ingredient in pig spit-roasting to improve the flavor and decrease the grease-taste.

· Also used to flavor wines, sauces and spices.

· The roots have a ginger-like flavor and used as a condiment and adding fragrance to gogo hair-washes.

Other Uses

· Volatile oil, called Lemon grass oil, consists mainly of citral and used in perfume and toilet soap manufacture.

· In India, cultivated around houses to repel snakes.

· Scavon Vet Spray: Andropogon citratus is one of the ingredients in a spray used for parasitic mite, Demodex bovis, that causes demodectic mange in cattle.

· Recent uses and preparations: Stomach discomfort, toothache, sprain, vomiting and ringworm

Liniment: Boil equal amounts of chopped leaves and roots with freshly made coconut oil. Also use as insect repellant.
Infusion: Mix four ounces of the grass to one pint of boiling water.

· To keep away mosquitos, plant it around your house or place crushed leaves on your window sills.


· Antibacterial / Antifungal: Studies have shown antibacterial activity, comparable to penicillin.

Miagus (Lumanai)

Miagus (Lumanaja fluviatilis Blanco) or lumanai is a very characteristic species growing along small swift streams at low and medium altitudes, on banks and in stream beds. The leaves are used as poultice for skin diseases. It also possesses diuretic action and is thought to be helpful for those suffering from high blood pressure, high uric acid, gout, and those with kidney troubles and stones.


A gregarious shrub or small, crooked and twisted tree, 1-4 m tall, up to 10 cm in stem diameter, forming a woody, deep and extensive root system. Branches smooth to slightly grooved. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules keel-like, enlarged at base, 5-6 mm long, caducous; petiole 5-15 mm long, pubescent; blade narrowly lanceolate to oblong,


· Food: Leaves are eaten as a vegetable in the Philippines.

· Medicine: Miagus provides a number of popular local medicines. In Laos, a decoction of the leaves is used against itches. In Cambodia, the stems and leaves are applied as a purgative, whereas an infusion of the wood is used against malaria and scabies. In Java, leaves were used to blacken teeth and to fix loose ones. The pounded leaves and sometimes fruits are applied as a poultice against skin diseases in Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia. A decoction of the leaves and fruits is similarly effective.

· Lipids: Young shoots and leaves are a component of a hair oil in Cambodia.

Source: Miagus (Lumanaja fluviatilis Blanco)

Banaba "Queen's Flower"

Banaba (Lagerstroemia speciosa Linn.) also known as “Queen’s Flower”, has significant health benefits. Studies have shown that banaba contains corosolic acid (a triterpenoid glycoside), an “insulin-like principle” that helps in reducing blood sugar levels. Therefore, banaba is beneficial for those suffering from diabetes. Studies have also revealed that banaba is helpful in decreasing triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Banaba has also been shown to be good for the kidneys, promote weight loss, help regulate blood pressure, prevent hyperuricemia and aid the digestive system.


· A decidious tropical flowering tree, 5 to 10 m high, sometimes growing to a height of 20 meters. Leaves, large, spatulate, oblong to elliptic-ovate, 2-4 inches in width, 5-8 inches in length; shedding its leaves the first months of the year. Before shedding, the leaves are bright orange or red during which time it is thought to contain higher levels of corosolic acid). Flowers are racemes, pink to lavender; flowering from March to June. After flowering, the tree bears large clumps of oval nutlike fruits.


· Grows wild; widely distributed in the Philippines, in the secondary forests at low and medium altitudes. Cultivated for its beautiful flowers. Propagation by seeds.

Chemical constituents

· Rich in tannin: fruit, 14 to 17 %; leaves 13 %; bark, 10%.

· Studies have isolated: (1) corosolic acid (2) ellagitannin Lagerstroemin (3) gallotannins

· Penta-O-galloyl-glucopyranose (PPG) – identified as the most potent of the gallotannins, with a higher glucose transport stimulatory activity than Lagerstroemin. In addition to stimulating glucose uptake in fat cells, it also has anti-adipogenic properties.

Parts utilized

· Leaves, fruits, flowers and bark.

Folkloric Uses

· Roots have been used for a variety of stomach ailments. Leaf decoction for diabetes; also use as a diuretic and purgative.

· Decoction of old leaves and dried fruit (dried from one to two weeks), 50 gms to a pint of boiling water, 4 to 6 cups daily has been used for diabetes. Old leaves and ripe fruit are preferred, believed to have greater glucose lowering effect. Young leaves and flowers have a similar effect, though only 70% that of matures leaves and fruits. The wood has no known glucose lowering effect; the bark, a very small amount. A decoction of 20 gms of old leaves or dried fruit in 100 cc of water was found to have the equivalent effect to that of 6 to 7.7 units of insulin.

· The bark decoction has been used for the treatment of diarrhea.

· The bark, flowers and leaves used to facilitiate bowel movements.

· Decoction of fruits or roots gargled for aphthous stomatitis.

· Decoction of leaves and flowers used for fevers and as diuretic.

· Leaf decoction or infusion used for bladder and kidney inflammation, dysuria, and other urinary dysfunctions.


· Corosolic Acid / Lagerstroemin / Gallotannins: Studies have identified several compounds as responsible for its anti-diabetic activity. (1) corosolic acid (2) Lagerstroemin, an ellagitannin (3) gallotannins, of which PPG – penta-O-galloyl-glucopyranose–was identified as the most potent, with a higher glucose transport stimulatory activity than Lagerstroemin. In addition to stimulating glucose uptake in fat cells, it also has anti-adipogenic properties.

· Inhibition of TNF-induced Activation: Diabetes leads to cardiomyocyte hypertrophy in association with upregulation of vasoactive factors and activation of nuclear factor (NF)-kappaB and activating protein-1. Study results indicate L speciosa can inhibit DNA-binding of NF-kappaB which may explain its possible inhibition of diabetes-induced cardiomyocyte hypertrophy.

· Ellagitannins / Insulin-like Glucose Uptake Stimulatory/Inhibitory Activities / Adipocyte Differentiation-Inhibitory Activity: Study yielded seven ellagitannins, including lagerstroemin from the leaves of L speciosa. The ellagitannins exhibited strong activities in both stimulating insulin-like glucose uptake and inhibiting adipocyte differentiation . Also, ellagic acid derivatives showed inhibitory effect on glucose trasport.

· Diabetes: (1) Banaba has been extensively studied for its application in the treatment of diabetes. Early on, Its ability to lower blood sugar was attributed to corosolic acid, a triterpenoid glycoside, belived to facilitate glucose-transport into cells. (2) Studied with abutra, akapulko, makabuhay for antidiabetic activity through activation of gucose transporter activity. One of the active principles from Banaba was the tripertene, corosolic aicd.

· Weight loss: Studies in mice suggest an antiobesity effect. It is becoming a common ingredient in weight-loss supplements / products as a metabolic enhancer.

· Hypertension: It is also being studied for its use in the treatment of blood pressure, renal and immune system benefits.

· Lipid-lowering: Studies in mice suggest a lipid lowering effect - decreasing triglyceride and total cholesterol levels. To date, no toxicity has been identified.

· Hypoglycemic Activity of Irradiated Banaba Leaves: Study showed the effects of nBLE and iBLE were comparable to the hypoglycemic effects of insulin.

· Xanthine oxidase inhibitors from the leaves of Lagerstroemia speciosa (L.) Pers: Xanthine oxidase is a key enzyme involved with hyperuricemia, catalyzing the oxidation of hypoxanthine to xanthine to uric aicd. The study supports the dietary use of the aqueous extracts from Banaba leaves for the prevention and treatment of hyperuricemia.

· Antidiabetic Activity: Study showed a significant reduction of blood glucose levels with the soft gel formulation showing better bioavailability than a dry-powder formulation.

· Other studies report potential uses: (1) antibacterial effects from seed extracts (2) significant protection of HIV-infected cells by ellagic acid constituents (3) antioxidative activity of a water extract (4) inhibition of xanthine oxidase by aqueous extract, 31 and anti-inflammatory activity in mice.

· Anti-Inflammatory / Free Radical Scavenging: Study showed antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities from the ethyl acetate and ethanol extracts of Lagerstroemia speciosa.