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Gluten free Turkey Stuffing

Wild Rice Stuffing with Persimmons & Chestnuts

It’s that time of the year again when dreams of sage scented stuffing infiltrate my deep sleep, and I wake up hungry for a big plate.
However, the conventional crouton laden version out of a box simply won’t satisfy.  Allow me to share one of my favorites made with wild rice, persimmons, and chestnuts.

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Persimmon Pudding

Persimmon Pudding

From October to December, persimmons grace the fruit section of markets in California.  Their luxuriant orange hue always reminds me of the hour before sunset, when everything is diffused with a warm amber glow. What photographers refer to as the “magic or golden hour”;  when the world is illuminated by an ineffable beauty that is beyond human manipulation.  An ephemeral moment holding rich possibilities as the day transits into night.  Isn’t it wonderful that a fruit can conjure up such poetic, sweet imagery.  Well, at least for me.
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Grilled Eggplant with Pomegranate

Grilled Eggplant with Pomegranate Syrup & Seeds

In my last post, I sang the praises of our luscious red pomegranate.
Allow me to continue the accolade with a few more factoids, and then share a recipe.

A fruit by any other name, tastes as tantalizing. In Persian, it is dulima; in Spanish; granada, in Dutch, granaatappel; in German, granatapfel.
Pomegranate, (Punica granatum L.) comes from the marraige of two french words: pomme (for apple) and granate for seeds.

As a plant, Punica granatum has shown remarkable adoptability, and is grown in many regions of the world including China, India, South America, and even Hawaii.
It was introduced to California by Spanish settlers in 1769

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Portrait of a Pomegranate

When pomegranates come into season, my senses are filled with rubicund joy as the world is made more beautiful by this luxurious jewel-like fruit that offers up seeds of scarlet sweet juiciness with just a hint of astringency to titillate the palate. Not only is the pomegranate a visual and gustatory treasure from Nature, but it also confers powerful health benefits that are off the charts.

Pomegranates in Mythology and Romance

But before I share with you the salutary aspects of this amazing red fruit, let us wander into the ethereal realm of mythology and romance.
There are many who believe that Eve tempted Adam, not with the scholarly apple, but with the turgid pulsating redness of a pomegranate.  This theory may very well be true as the location of the Garden of Eden, around the valleys surrounding the Tigris-Euphrates River, is indeed one of the places where pomegranates first emerged into our botanical consciousness.
In time, man cultivated the pomegranate far and wide, and many ancient cultures have developed mythical tales which have served to increase the romance and popularity of the fruit.
In Iran, where around 600,000 tons of the fruit are produced each year, pomegranates symbolize love and fertility.  The legendary Persian hero, Isfandiyar, ate pomegrantes regularly and was invincible in battle.  The Persians also believe that eating pomegrantes aligns one with the energy of the sun, especially during the winter solstice.
Pomegranates also feature prominantly in other cultures.  In Judaism, it is a symbol of fertility and righteousness.  It is one of the symbolic foods eaten on Rosh Hashana.
Participants pray, that their merits will increase like the numerous seeds of the pomegranate.
In Christianity, it symbolizes resurrection and everlasting life.
And for the Chinese, who regard the color red as good luck, and value male babies; pomegranates symbolizes prosperity, fecundity, and having many male offsprings.
And perhaps the best known tale from antiquity featuring our brilliant red fruit is from the Greeks.
Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, had a beautiful daughter named Persephone.   While Demeter was away from her domain, Hades, the lord of the Underworld cast his desires on the comely Persephone and abducted her while she was picking flowers.  When Demeter returned and found out that her beloved daughter had been kidnapped, she immediate went in search, but could not find her. The deity of agriculture became so upset, that she refused to provide the world with her gift of harvest, and so fields laid barren and a severe famine ensued. The mighty gods on Mt. Olympus had to intervene as people were dying from the famine. They promised to rescue Persephone, and sent Hermes, the official emissary between Heaven and Hell, to negotiate with Hades.   Hermes’ diplomacy was a success, and the god of the Underworld reluctantly complied.
However, while Persephone was on her way back to Earth, Hades tempted her with seeds from the pomegranate.  She was immediately attracted to the crystalline ruby sparkles,  and being rather hungry from her travails, ate the seeds. Unfortunately, she did not knowing that whomever ate or drank anything from the Underworld was doomed to remain there.
In her case, a compromised was made, and Persephone had to spend part of the year with Hades.
It is thus that we have the different seasons.  Since Persephone is also the goddess of Spring, in her absence, the botanical world lies dormant until her return.  Persephone’s powerful mother, Demeter, also affects the seasons.  While Persephone is with her, things are sunny and blooming (Spring/Summer), but while her daughter is away in the dark reaches of the Underworld, Demeter becomes sad, and forlorn (Autumn/Winter).

Pomegranates and Health Benefits

Perhaps Hades’ amorous pursuit of Persephone was spurred on by his regular intake of pomegranates?  A rather spurious supposition, you may chuckle to yourself, but one that is substantiated by scientific research.  In a recent study done by the Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, volunteers who drank one glass of pomegranate juice daily for two weeks showed an increase in *testosterone,a decrease in blood pressure, while their moods were elevated.
Specifically, pomegranates contain several robust antioxidants, including
ellagitannin (aka: punicalagins) that squelch free-radicals.  This is also good news for cancer prevention.
So, pomegranates are good for romance, your heart, and overall health.
*Testosterone is needed by both men and women for a healthy sex drive, heart health, and energy.

How to Open a Pomegranate

How the heck do you open and de-seed a pomegranate?  Well, there are a ton of videos on the web, most of which show immersing the cut fruit in a bowl of water.  But why would you want to do that as it will dilute the flavor!  Besides, I really don’t think the beautiful ruby seeds like to be drowned.
Watch my video, and learn the proper (and easy) way!
Then, do visit me again in the next post for more fascinating factoids on pomegranates and two yummy, heart warming recipes!

For Love of Food and Friends,


Furhman, Joel, MD., “Secrets Revealed: The Powerful Heart Benefits of the Pomegranate”,

Rosick, Edward, MD., “Why Aging Women Need Testosterone”, LE Magazine. April, 2004.

Tsang et al. “Pomegranate juice consumption influences urinary glucocorticoids, attenuates blood pressure and exercise-induced oxidative stress in healthy volunteers”, Society for Endocrinology, Endocrine Abstracts, April 12, 2011.


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Mushroom Pâté on Potato Crostinis

Mushroom Pate on Potato Crostinis


Did you know that the common button mushroom is not only tasty, but is a super food?
From strengthening the immune system to boosting cardiovascular integrity, researchers are beginning to realize that this unassuming member of the edible fungi family outshines some of it’s more exotic cousins, such as maitake or shiitake, when it comes to delivering health benefits.
Here are a few highlights found in button mushrooms:

  • Contain a special fatty acid called CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) which helps to reduce the risk of breast and prostate cancers.
  • Contain important trace minerals such as selenium, zinc, and manganese.
  • Provide a power antioxidant known as ergothioneine which helps to prevent oxidative damage, especially to our DNA.
  • Boost our immune system to increasing strengthen the activity of our white blood cells.
  • Helps to decrease chronic inflammation.

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Roasted Oyster Mushrooms with Garlic

Fresh Oyster Mushrooms, p.columbinus

Edible mushrooms are Nature’s nutritious and mysterious gifts to us.  One of my favorites is the oyster mushroom.  There are, actually, many species from the pleurotus genus, with the most common being p. osreatus (oyster mushroom), p. columbinus (blue oyster mushroom,pictured above), or p. eryngii (king oyster mushroom).
Some are quite small, while others can get very big.

Regardless of the species, oyster mushrooms are thoroughly amazing.
First of all, they are extremely tasty and easy to cook. (My recipe at the end of this post
is so simple that even if you can’t use a knife, you can make it!)
Oyster mushrooms exude a delicate, yet concentrated array of aromas that include anise and almonds.  When they are added to soups or stews, the dish is imbued with a sweet, rich vibrant flavor and texture.
Beyond their culinary magic,  they also confer many health benefits for humans, and the environment.

According to studies done by researchers, oyster mushrooms are able to reduce cancerous tumors, and strengthen the immune system.  They have been studied for their cholesterol lowering benefits, and are high in B-vitamins, and protein.

They are also carnivorous.  Don’t worry, they won’t eat your pet, but they will attack those pesky nematodes which are the bane of gardeners.  In case you don’t know what nematodes are, they are microscopic “worms” that feed on living plant and fungal tissues.
Some nematodes like to feed on plants and some types of mushrooms by first destroying their outer structures, then burrowing into the tissues.  Other nematodes like to live in soil, and can damage stems of foliage and flowers.  So, the mighty oyster mushroom can send out toxins that take down the tiny predators, while leaving plants or fungi alive and well.  In fact, there is research underway to develop a natural, non-toxic pesticide product from oyster mushrooms.  Good news for gardeners and farmers, plus Mother Earth!

OK, before we move onto my amazingly easy, yet incredibly delicious recipe, here’s one more really cool thing about oyster mushrooms.  According to Paul Stamets, world-renown mycologist and environmentalist, this mushroom genus can inhibit e.coli and staph.  The technical description is rather complicated, so I will quote directly from an article by Mr. Stamets, which was published by Huffington Post.
“More recently, using in-contact antibacterial tests, we verified that exudates from oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) mycelium strongly inhibited Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus aureus. Viable cell counts were reduced from more than 100,000,000/ml of water to less than 1,000/ml within 24-72 hours when a 1:1 mixture of exudate and bacterially enriched water were combined.” 1


Sorry, I lied.  Just have to share one more really really really cool thing about oyster mushrooms and their ability to save our polluted environment.

Oyster mushrooms have been used in mycoremediation, which is the process of using mushrooms to remove toxins in a polluted area.  Our fungi friends produce enzymes and acids that break down compounds; like oils, poisons, and pesticides. That’s right!  It means that not only can they eat up garden pests, but they can also garble up toxic chemicals.
For an in-depth look at what oyster mushrooms can do to clean up oil spills, please read this report from Paul Stamets’ website, www.fungi.com.

Now, on to cooking:

Roasted Oyster Mushrooms with Garlic

6 oz. oyster mushrooms
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 – 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
sea salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste

Shredded oyster mushrooms on baking tray

1) Heat oven to 375° F.
If you are doing one recipe, then a toaster oven works really well.  However, if you are making a larger quantity, then use a regular oven as the mushrooms should be arranged in a single layer to roast properly.


2) Quickly rinse the mushrooms under cold running water to clean, then immediate pat them dry with a clean kitchen or paper towel.
(Do not soak them as they will absorb water and dilute the flavor.)
3) Using your hands, shred the mushrooms into small pieces of equivalent size.
As the stems of oyster mushrooms are not as fibrous as other mushrooms, you really don’t need to cut it off, except for the very ends of the larger ones.
4) Place the mushrooms in a bowl and toss with olive oil, and minced garlic.
DO NOT add any salt at this point as doing that will cause moisture to leach out while they are being roasted.
5) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Scatter prepared mushrooms onto the sheet and bake for about 15 – 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and season with salt and pepper.
Serve over cooked grains, or as a side dish to chicken or meat.  I love it on my burger with melted cheese!

* As with other edible mushrooms, always cook oyster mushrooms before ingesting.
The only exception is truffles.

For love of food and friends,


Stamets, Paul. “The Mighty Oyster Mushroom: The Workhorse of Gourmet Fungi”, Huffington Post, 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-stamets/oyster-mushroom_b_2522084.html

Stamets, Paul. Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Save the World. Berkeley, Ten Speed Press, 2005.




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Blackberries are Beautiful

blackberries on the vine



August signals the height of Summer, and it brings one of my favorite things to do:
picking blackberries!  Although I like picking all sorts of berries, blackberries hold a special enchantment for me.  These succulent onyx jewels from Mother Nature are prolific this time of year, and you can easily find them on hiking trails, in parks, or on farms.

Whilst there is something  primal, and deeply satisfying to forage for edible fruits in the wild, I do like picking blackberries on a farm where the vines are laid out in rolls and trellised.  One advantage is that it makes picking a lot easier.  ( Anyone who has foraged for blackberries in thick, sprawling bushes know that it can be quite a task as the vines are very thorny, snagging onto clothing and pricking delicate skin. The “ouch” factor can be quite high!)   Not so on a farm.
My favorite place to gather berries are at Swanton Berry Farm in Davenport, which is off Highway 1, towards Santa Cruz.  My last visit there in late July was simply magical.
A soft summer sun hung in the sky, as a gently breeze blew the blackberry tendrils, causing me to feel that they were dancing with me as I looked for the ripest, most turgid, berries to pick.  And once I got started, I couldn’t stop!

Roll of trellised blackberries

I turn into a greedy berry picker, wanting to pick every ripe berry I could get my hands on! Or is it that the berries cast a spell upon me?
Pick me, pick me, I am ready, I am ready to leave the vine. Pick me now.”
I ended up with almost ten pounds!


Blackberry Facts and a Bit of Folklore

  • Blackberries turn from pale green to red, to black.  Only pick the ones which have turned black, as unripe berries are very tannic and not really edible.
  • Another common name for blackberries is “bramble”, which means: prickly!
  • Blackberries are a member of the rose family, as is evident by the thorns.
  • What is so interesting about this fruit is that what we think of as a single berry, is actually a dupelet or cluster. ( Think of a cluster of grapes. ) The many tiny seeds in each dupelet contributes to the flavor and nutritional value of the fruit.
  • The leaves and bark are also used in herbal healing; from treating gout, to
    dysentry, and even used as a tonic to tighten the skin.
  •  The Native American Indians pounded the canes (vines) to make a tough fiber which was then woven into a fabric. They also utilized the canes’ naturally thorny  and strong structure to build fences, and the berries were used for dying.
  • Blackberry thickets attract birds including the brown thrasher, catbirds, cardinals, and mockingbirds. They are also popular with swallowtail butterflies.
  • In old English folklore, brambles were believed to protect against earthbound spirits and vampires.

Berry Good Nutrition

Not only are blackberries delicious, useful, and beautiful; they are also little containers of powerful nutrients. Excellent source of fiber, vitamin C, and minerals,
as well as being high in rutin, a bioflavonoid, that helps to support the integrity of blood vessels, thus useful for heart health as well as treating varicose veins and hemorrhoids.  Rutin also has a calming effect on inflammation.
On top of all that, these succulent berries contain several antioxidants:

  • anthocyanins: helps to prevent aging by buffering oxidative stress, while supporting brain function
  • gallic acid: is anti-fungal and anti-viral
  • ellagic acid: helps to reduce high blood pressure

Ways to Enjoy Blackberries

The simplest and most elegant way is to pair blackberries with hand-whipped cream.
Simply get a carton of organic heavy whipping cream, pour some in a large stainless steel or glass bowl.  Get a whisk, and work that whisk back and forth until the cream holds a soft peak. Depending on how much you like fresh cream, about one cup of the liquid cream will yield enough to serve over 4 cups of fresh blackberries.
However, if you end up picking pounds of these beautiful berries, like I did, turning them into jam, ice cream, or wine or excellent options.
I have made jams and a dairy-free ice cream, so check back for those recipes.  As for blackberry wine, I am searching for a good recipe.  Let me know if you have one.

Blackberries and fresh whipped cream


For love of food and friends,

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Vitamin D Foods and More Sunshine Tips


Vitamin D Frittata

On my last post, you learned why vitamin D is so important for good health and how to safely get your D from the sun.  This week, we are going to look at a few other intriguing facts about the sunshine
 vitamin along with some foods that can also provide you with this precious nutrient.
(The recipe for the yummy Vitamin D Frittata can be found by scrolling down.  But please enjoy all the important stuff in between.)

Just to recap, the best way to get your vitamin D is through sunshine.  You could accumulate as much as 10,000 IU in 20 minutes if you fully exposed yourself.  But please be discreet, and remember that you should only stay in the sun until your skin turns pink, then put on a full-spectrum suntan lotion or get back indoors.  If you have darker skin, then a little more exposure is OK.  I highly recommend The UV Advantage by Dr. Michael Horlicks,
which has very precise charts for obtaining vitamin D based on your skin type and where you live.
You can also see my last post for simple step-by-step instructions based on Dr. Horlick’s book.

Speaking of suntan lotion, why is “full-spectrum” important?

The Dark Side of Sunscreens
In the 1960s, companies that made sunscreens only provided UVB protection.  Since it is the UVB rays that cause skin to burn, manufacturers promoted their products to sun-worshippers who could now get dark tans, without being burned.  However, the irony is that it is the UVA radiation which causes pre-mature wrinkles, and is linked to melanoma.  And, it is the UVB that provides vitamin D (with the help of our skin, cholesterol, liver, and kidneys).
The Environmental Working Group cautions against using sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and retinyl palminate.  Both chemicals have been shown to have toxic effects and may cause cancer.

Remember, if you are not in a tropical/subtropical location, then vitamin D isn’t even available through sunlight from October through March. That’s half the year!
 The trick is to get as much sun as you can, safely, during the warm months, then get it through food and supplementation if necessary.

It is also a good idea to test your serum level of vitamin D. In other words, how much vitamin is floating around in your body. According to the latest research, optimal vitamin D levels to prevent disease are between 40–60 ng/ml. To find out more about testing and the many health benefits of vitamin D, go to www.grassrootshealth.net . This site is managed through a consortium of scientists, institutions and individuals committed to solving the worldwide Vitamin D deficiency epidemic.

Edible Sources of Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3

First of all, what’s the difference between the two forms?  Vitamin D is a general term.  Vitamin D3 is also known as cholecalciferol, and is created by skin cells, along with cholesterol, in response to UVB light.  So Vitamin D3  comes from animal sources.  Vitamin D2,  or ergocalciferol, comes from plant sources.

Here’s a list of vitamin D-rich foods:

Cod-liver oil (1 Tbsp) = 1,360 IU D3
Cooked tuna, sardines, mackerel or salmon (3-3.5 oz.) = 200-360 IU D3
Egg Yolks, conventional eggs (2) = 40 IU,
Egg Yolks from 100% free range eggs (Source: Mother Earth News) (2) = 150 – 200 IU
Shiitake mushrooms (fresh, 3.5 oz.) = 100 IU D2
Shiitake mushrooms (dried, 3.5 oz.) = 1,600 IU D2

Alright, on to the frittata! Please note that it is important to choose 100% free range eggs for the highest amount of vitamin D, and the best place to get organic dried shiitake mushrooms is from www.fungi.com.

Vitamin D Frittata

1 small purple onion, thinly sliced
1/2 med red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 small zucchini, cut into small dice
1 oz. dried shiitake, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes,
then de-stem and slice
3 oz. fresh shiitake, remove stems and slice
2 tablespoons organic butter, or ghee (purified butter)
10 whole free range eggs
sea salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste

Pre-heat oven to 350° F.
Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl and beat vigorous with a fork for one minute and season with sea salt (approx. 1/2 teaspoon) and fresh ground pepper. Set aside.

Heat a an 8″ cast-iron pan on medium high and add in the butter. When the butter just begins to bubble, toss in the sliced onions and sauté until translucent, about 2 minutes. Now add in the rest of the vegetables and shiitake and season with seal salt (approx. 1 teaspoon) and fresh ground pepper to taste. Continue to sauté until the vegetables are crisp-tender.

Now, pour the beaten eggs into the skillet and gently mix the ingredients, then place into the pre-heated oven. Bake for about 20 – 25 minutes or until the frittata is springy when you push the top with your finger.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
Cut into eight slices and serve with pesto or salsa.

For love of food and friends,





Dellorta, Danielle. “Avoid sunscreens with potentially harmful ingredients, group warns”, CNN News, May 16,2012.

Horlick, Michael. The UV Advantage. New York: ibooks, Inc. 2003.

Tavera-Mendoza, Luz., White, John H. Cell Defenses and the Sunshine Vitamin. Scientific America, p. 62 – 72, November 2007.

Wehr, E., Pilz, S., Boehm, B. O., März, W. and Obermayer-Pietsch, B. (2010), Association of vitamin D status with serum androgen levels in men. Clinical Endocrinology, 73: 243–248. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2265.2009.03777.x



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Vitamin D: Enjoy the Sun


We are  at the height of Summer, and it is prime time  to take advantage of the Sun, and its incredible ability to give us the “sunshine” vitamin.  Actually, it’s an intricate, and miraculous interplay of Helios’ UV rays with our largest organ; the skin. The team behind converting sunshine into vitamin D also includes cholesterol,  the liver, kidneys, and cells.

What Does Vitamin D Do?

Here’s a partial list:

  • Bone health ~ prevents osteoporosis, osteomalacia, and rickets
  • Auto-immune diseases ~ decreases risk of rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and Type I diabetes
  • Mental health ~ improves SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), depression, and for the females, PMS
  • Cancer prevention ~ shown to decrease risk of breast, prostate, and colon cancers

Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms

And here’s a list of symptoms to look out for that signals deficiency:

  • Osteoporosis and Osteomalacia
  • 17 varieties of Cancer (including breast, prostate and colon)
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Bursitis
  • Gout
  • Infertility and PMS
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic Pain
  • Periodontal disease

Yet, in spite of irrefutable evidence that we need sunlight, lack of vitamin D has reached epidemic proportions in the 21st century, brought on by a  combination of:

  • Sun phobia. For decades, the people who make suntan lotions have scared the living daylights out of us regarding sun exposure and skin cancers.  As a result, babies and adults slather suntan lotions on which prevent the skin from absorbing the needed UVB radiation to produce vitamin D. Please note that sun-protection is important, but in order to get precious vitamin D from the Sun, we need to expose unprotected skin for a short time to absorb the UVB rays.
  • Long hours spent in-doors in front of computers, TV screens, and game consoles.
  • Poor diets lacking in vitamin D, and an increase in the incidence of digestive problems. This includes IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) or gastric reflux, both of which prevent optimal vitamin D absorption through food or supplementation.

Hey, and if you engage in all three vitamin D-depleting activities, then chances are you too may be deficient in D.

A Little Sunshine Science

Sunlight is composed of electromagnetic radiation of varying lengths, including ultraviolet or UV radiations: UVA, UVB, and UVC.  The last is completely destroyed by the atmosphere, so we are only affected by UVA and UVB, which act differently on us.  UVA is the one which gives us wrinkles, and in very high doses, can lead to cancerous melanomas.  UVB is what causes skin to burn if over exposed to sunlight, and may lead to non-melamona  skin cancer over time.  However, UVB is also what stimulates the skin to produce our beloved and vital vitamin D.

The most important point to keep in mind is that there is a huge difference between safely exposing yourself to acquire healthy levels of vitamin D, and over-tanning to the point of scorching your skin and creating risk factors for skin cancers.

The amount of sun sourced vitamin D you get depends on your location and time of year.
If you live in mid-latitudes (35°–50º), cities including: NY, SF, Boston, there is no UVB to be had during November through February so supplementation would be a good idea.
(Check in next week for Part II as I discuss vitamin D in foods, supplementation, and the real deal behind skin cancer and sunbathing.)
For the rest of the year, and especially during the Summer, get bare and get safe sun.

How Much Sun Exposure Is Safe?

Here is “The Horlick Formula for Safe Sun” created by Dr. Michael Horlick, a renowned vitamin D researcher, and author of The UV Advantage.

Expose 25 percent of your body’s surface area to 25 percent of *1MED two to three times per week, without sunscreen, during all times of the year when UVB rays are available where you live.  1MED just means one minimal erythemal dose,  which in plain English is the time it takes for you to get a mild sunburn, without sunscreen.

Wait, don’t be confused!  It’s rather simple when you do some easy math and locate your coordinates.

So, here’s an example on how you do it according to Dr. Horlick’s Formula for Safe Sun:

  1. Go outside in your shorts or bathing suite  (ideally before 10 AM or after 2 PM), without sunscreen, and see how long it takes for your skin to get mildly pink. This is your 1MED.
  2. After that, either get back indoors, or put on a full-spectrum sunscreen.
  3. Multiply your personal 1MED by 25%. For example, If it took 15 minutes for you to turn pink, or 1MED, 15 multiplied by .25, gives you approximately 4 minutes.
  4. Now get out and enjoy the sun with 25% of your body exposed  (this means expose your face, hands, and arms, OR arms and legs) for about 4 minutes, two to three times per week, when UVB rays are available where you live.
    (After the desired exposure time to get your vitamin D, use a full-spectrum suntan lotion if you want to stay out longer.)

According to Dr. Horlick, this method will provide you with approximately 1,000 IU of vitamin D.  The more skin you expose, the more vitamin D you will make.
Keep in mind that although 1,000 IU is a good amount, individual needs differ greatly and the optimal amount you require per day depends on your existing vitamin status, and also on the amount of vitamin D in your diet.

I highly recommend that you get Dr. Horlick’s book, The UV Advantage. It’s easy to read, and includes valuable information on: how vitamin D prevents diseases, the truth about suntan lotions and skin cancer, how to get adequate vitamin D through supplements or indoor tanning. Plus it has a super-nifty chart on when and where to get the best exposure of UVB.

And of course, visit me next week as I share more amazing vitamin D facts, how to test your very own vitamin D level, and a few delicious recipes with vitamin D-rich foods.

Your ally in health,




Horlick, Michael. The UV Advantage. New York: ibooks, Inc. 2003.

Tavera-Mendoza, Luz., White, John H. Cell Defenses and the Sunshine Vitamin. Scientific America, p. 62 – 72, November 2007.

Wehr, E., Pilz, S., Boehm, B. O., März, W. and Obermayer-Pietsch, B. (2010), Association of vitamin D status with serum androgen levels in men. Clinical Endocrinology, 73: 243–248. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2265.2009.03777.x

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Spicy Chocolate Dip

dark chocolate

Chopped Dark Chocolate

The food of the gods, cacao (pronounced: cah-COW) is indeed a powerful substance that the Mayans and Aztecs appreciated more than 3,000 years ago.  They prized chocolate for its mild stimulating effects and believed that it improved concentration and strength.

Millennia later, researchers in the 21st Century have found that chocolate indeed provides a gamut of healthful properties:

  • contains anti-oxidants
  • contains a mild stimulant known as theobromine, that elevates mood
  • is a source of phenylethylamine (PEA), which provides a sense of well being
    (The same chemical produced when people fall in love.)
  • helps to elevate serotonin, which helps with depression
  • contains minerals such as potassium, magnesium, iron, and zinc

The problem with eating too much chocolate is the sugar!  So why not enjoy the health benefits of cacao in a savory appetizer?

Spicy Chocolate Dip with Shrimp

Shrimp with Spicy Chocolate Dip

1 oz. dark chocolate (70% for higher cacao content), chopped
2 Tbsp. tahini, or almond butter
1/8 – ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. grated fresh ginger
¼ cup water
¼ cup chopped cilantro, or parsley to garnish
Sea salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste
8 – 10 med shrimp, cooked

Serves 2 (as an appetizer)

This savory chocolate dip is intensely chocolatey, spicy and unctuous. So a little goes a long way, although you may want to double this recipe as it is rather addictive!

Place the chopped chocolate in a small stainless, or glass bowl. Place the bowl over a small pan of boiling water to melt the chocolate.  Meanwhile, place the other ingredients (except for the cooked shrimp) in a blender.  When the chocolate is melted, turn the blender on and drizzle the chocolate into the mixture with the blender running.  You should end up with a nice smooth and thick dip. (Add in just a little water if the mixture seems too thick.) Spoon the dip into a nice bowl, add the chopped herb if you are using it, and serve with the cooked shrimp.

This is also delicious with chicken or grilled vegetables.  Or hey, I actually like it with potato chips too!
If you are making this ahead of time, keep it at room temperature to serve.
Once refrigerated, it will harden.  You can soften it by re-heating over a double boiler.

For love of food & friends,


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