Healthy Holiday Spice!

Nothing like leaving this post to the last minute. With any luck the pilot is revving up the engines for my holiday flight right now.

But I couldn’t leave without some holiday hints for you all.

Spices have been in the nutrition news this year and the Christmas holidays are the perfect time to highlight these power houses of good health.

The fact that most people  love the aroma of  ginger cookies and cinnamon topped buns should be the first clue that your body enjoys these spices as well.

All spices are chockfull of anti-oxidants in the form of flavonoids and polyphenols. At this time of year ginger, cinnamon ,nutmeg and cloves abound in holiday bake goods and drinks. Making us feel a bit less guilty over our indulgences.

In many studies ginger and cinnamon have been seen to help steady your blood sugar and build up your immunity. Both of these actions are helpful during a season when we tend to eat more sweets than usual and expose ourselves to holiday kisses and hugs ( read germs).

Cloves are the super hero of the spice world. Cloves appear to have all the “anti’s” in those buds. Anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and analgesic, just to name the few that would be helpful to have in your body this holiday season.  Cloves have been used to sooth a toothache, relieve an upset stomach and clear the phlegm from an upper respiratory infection. All three we hope you avoid this season.

Nutmeg also can help relieve indigestion and  treat bad breath. Best of all it can help you sleep. Sprinkle some on your warm beverage before bed and start counting sheep.

If you are looking for goodies full of these spices and many other delicious treats, stop by the Jiashan Market this Saturday. The folks at Jiashan Market  are having a special Christmas market this weekend with extended hours and holiday music!

Jiashan Christmas Market this weekend!!
Saturday 19th December 11:00 – 18:00

What a great way to start this joyful season!

Eat Well , Live Well, Have Fun!





The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”

Dr. Weil’s Holiday Ginger CookiesIngredients
2/3 cup molasses or sorghum
1/3 cup softened butter or Spectrum Spread
1/4 cup frozen concentrate apple juice, thawed
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 egg whites
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons powdered ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon powdered cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon grated orange zest

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix the molasses, butter, apple juice concentrate, and vanilla together in a large bowl. Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl for 3 minutes, and then whisk them into the wet ingredients.
  3. Mix all the dry ingredients together, including the orange zest, in a separate, large bowl. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, using a wooden spoon to mix everything together until the dough becomes stiff. Knead the dough with clean hands for a couple of minutes, and then divide it in half.
  4. Flatten each half into 2 round disks, wrap them in plastic wrap, and put them in the freezer until they are completely chilled, at least 2 hours, or overnight.
  5. After the dough has thoroughly chilled, roll it out on a floured surface. Sprinkle the dough with a little more flour. Roll it out into 1/8-inch-thick slabs, and then cut it into shapes with a cookie cutter. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the cut cookie shapes with the apple juice concentrate.
  6. Smear the baking sheet with 1/4 teaspoon of butter and arrange the cookies on top. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until they turn a light golden brown. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.


Pretty in Pink

October is the month I really miss my hometown, which is located in upsate New York, in the northeastern part of the United States. Autumn in upstate New York, before the snowy winds blow, is robust with color. Deep oranges, reds, and varying shades of yellow enrich the countryside. Reminding us of the changing seasons of the year.

Pink is the color I have been seeing most  recently in Shanghai and that can only mean one thing, it is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Awareness is the operative word in that sentence. Medicine has made great strides in controlling and treating breast cancer but health prevention measures and early detection are still the best tools in tackling this disease. Here are some general health recommendations that we can all adopt for this month and the years ahead.

Alcohol: In most cases nutritionists will allow that a glass or two of red wine has some health benefits, however in terms of breast cancer prevention, most studies indicate that less, much less, as in none, is best for women. The research includes all alcohol, beer, wine and liquer. According to drinking more than 1-2 drinks per week increases a woman’s risk of hormone receptive- positive breast cancer by 15% and the risk increases with every additional drink.

Optimal weight: Recently there was a weight-loss diet going around that featured good results from an alternate fasting approach to eating. The origins of this diet approach came from studies on women with breast cancer. The researcher wanted to see if  restricting  food would improve treatment outcomes. They found that this method of energy restriction did bring about some weight loss and reduced the amount of circulating hormones that can influence the development of cancer. The bottom line is that maintaining a healthy weight not only reduces your risk of breast cancer but also your risk of developing other chronic diseases such as Type II diabetes and heart disease.

Cruciferous vegetables: Think crunchy. Broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, cabbage, kale and arugula all fall into this category.  These vegetables have copious amounts of fiber and phytonutrients known to have cancer fighting properties.

Tumeric and Ginger: Both these spices have been studied for their anti-inflammatory effects on health and by reducing inflammation we automatically reduce conditions that increase the risk of cancer. To add turmeric to your life, sprinkle it in cooking, put some in your smoothie and  go out for Indian food. Ginger appears liberally in Chinese cooking and makes a wonderful soothing drink on a cold day. Add a few slices to your morning tea.

Many organizations in Shanghai are having luncheons to celebrate survivors, remember victims and remind us all that there is still work to do on breast cancer prevention and finding cures.

Eat Well, Live Well, Have Fun!