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Navigating the Nutriscape!! (and how do you pronounce Quinoa anyway?)

September 10, 2013

Superfoods“Every run counts. Every bit of junk food hurts. Do a few push-ups. Run another minute. No mercy, it’s not a game, it’s your life.” @fitnessmotivator[1]

On Saturday is Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is a day of awe. Yet the Talmud calls it one of the most joyous days of the year. Rightly so, for its message is that as long as we breathe, there is no final verdict on our lives. ‘Prayer, penitence and charity have the power to turn aside the evil decree.’ G-d has given us free will and thus the strength to turn from bad to good. He has granted us a Day of Atonement, and thus the chance to unwrite our wrongs and find forgiveness. There is no equivalent in Judaism to the Greek ideas of fate and tragedy, the decree that cannot be averted and the futility of our attempts to escape it. Those concepts are utterly alien to the Jewish mind along with all theories which see our behaviour as determined by causes outside ourselves. Instead, we believe that there is always a chance to begin again. For though we may lose faith in G-d, G-d never loses faith in us. On this day of days we hear His voice, gently calling us to come home.

On Saturday eating breakfast, Samuel asked me why I had not put Chia Seeds on his cereal. On a regular basis I see Michaela sprinkling Chia on her yoghurt. Loren & I put Chia on our cereal and I often use Chia in the recipes I have cooked.

Chia is one of these supposed “superfoods”. But before going on and discussing superfoods. I read a beautiful thought on the Shofar on Rosh Hashana on and I have tried to link this to healthy eating and lifestyle.

“G-d made man straight, but they seek to corrupt their ways…” A person begins life in righteous fashion and corrupts himself with his sins. Upon repenting, the person becomes “straight” once again. This pattern is symbolized by the Shofar blowing which begins with a Tekiyah [straight sound,] continues with a Shevarim and Teruah [broken sounds,] and is followed by another Tekiyah.

The Torah refers to the sound of the Shofar as a “Teruah.” The Talmud derives from Scripture that the Teruah must be sounded three times on Rosh Hashanah and each Teruah must be preceded and followed by a “Tekiyah,” – a long clear sound. There are three opinions cited in the Talmud as to what defines a Teruah.

  1. A succession of nine quick blasts akin to whimpering sounds [known as Teruah]
  2. Three wailing sounds of medium length [known as Shevarim]
  3. A combination of three medium length and nine brief sounds [known as Shevarim Teruah]

The accepted custom is to blow all three varieties, which, counting the Tekiyas that precede and follow and each Teruah comprise a total of thirty sounds and constitute the minimum requirement.

In life there just as there are 3 opinions on the “Teruah” sound there are many paths to become “straight” again in life, health and fitness.

I know I have spoken about healthy eating before in a previous blog, but I wanted to emphasize that there are many ways people can eat well and many diet options from Gluten Free, Paleo, Plant Based, Low Carb etc. I recently read a very good article – “The Best Food for Runners . The Aricle includes the list of foods that Loren & I call our “Superfoods” and we make a point to eat these foods on a daily basis. The list includes – Whole grains, Lean Beef, Eggs, Yoghurt, Bananas, Salmon, Sweet Potatoes, Leafy Greens and Fluids.

As a reminder even that with Yom Kippur approaching, we need to consider the food that we eat before the fast. “One who eats and drinks of the ninth of Tishrei, Scripture considers him as having fasted on the ninth and tenth of the month!” [Tractate Berachos 8b] Since he eats in order to have the strength to fast the next day, the eating can be considered part of the fasting of the tenth, and rewarded as such. Thus, it is especially important to partake of a hearty meal shortly before the onset of the fast, since this meal will greatly impacts one’s ability to fast.  – Shelah HaKadosh.

Just as we need to eat to get through a fast day we need to get all we can out of the foods that we do eat on a daily basis. The Macmillan dictionary defines Superfood “as a food that is considered to be beneficial to your health and that may even help some medical conditions.” or “Superfoods are those that give you ‘more bang for your buck’ in nutritional terms.”

In researching these Superfoods I have come across various lists of foods that are classified as Superfoods. Below are some of the lists without going into to health benefits of the foods on the list:

I will leave you to all decide which of these foods you will incorporate into your diet and eating. I have tried to incorporate a lot of these foods into my diet and to my occasional cooking escapades. Our family have embraced Chia. Below is an article on Chia from

I noticed this beautiful though on – Many have a custom to purchase special foods, particularly fish, for their meal on Erev Yom Kippur, basing this practice on the following episode related in Midrash Rabbah [Genesis 11:4]. “One Erev Yom Kippur, a simple tailor went to market to purchase a fish for his meal on Erev Yom Kippur. That day, the fisherman had only one fish to sell and the tailor found himself bidding against a servant of the governor who had come to purchase a fish on his master’s behalf. The two of them continued to bid against one another until the price reached the princely sum of 12 dinar and the governor’s servant was forced to concede. Hearing that he had lost his meal to a simple tailor, the governor summoned the tailor to his mansion and furiously demanded an explanation. “What shall I do,” asked the tailor. “We have one special day each year in which all the sins we committed over the course of the year are forgiven. Shall I not honor that day with special foods?”

 We have one body – Should we not honour it with special foods!

 “I really regret eating healthy today.” — said no one, ever.

Have an easy fast and G’mar Chatima Tova (“May you be inscribed for goodness”). To end a quote from Rabbi Sacks:

 “Live, give and forgive.” – R. Sacks’ final message as Chief Rabbi in his midnight Selichot address.

ChiaSeedsInWater-850x566The Amazing Health Benefits Of Chia Seeds

By Dr. Lisa Samuel

I am often hesitant about fad supplements, products that become popular overnight, or that claim to have great health benefits. However, the recent trend toward consuming chia seeds has not disappointed me!

I decided to incorporate chia into my family’s dietary routine, as it assists in weight loss as well as reducing glucose levels which can benefit diabetics.1 My whole family has benefited from its addition to our meals, and my husband has found chia to be the solution to reducing his sugar cravings. Many people consume chia before a meal to reduce hunger, and I’ve found it to be a great breakfast drink. I feel energized, satisfied and awake after a nice glass.

Although I’m not a long distance runner, indulging in chia loading is better than carbohydrates or energy drinks to enhance athletic performances for endurance events.2 Research has also demonstrated that the beneficial effects of omega-3, as found in chia, has helped those suffering with mood disorders. A meta-analysis of trials involving patients with major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder provided evidence that omega-3 in chia reduces symptoms of depression.3 Omega-3 fatty acids have been proven in increase brain function and decrease depression. So, incorporating chia into your diet on a regular basis helps not just your physical health but also your mental health.

The optimal daily consumption of chia is four tablespoons throughout the day, but you can gradually work your way up to that amount starting with one tablespoon a day.4 Adding just two tablespoons of chia seeds to your daily diet will give you approximately seven grams of fiber, four grams of protein, 205 milligrams of calcium, and a whopping five grams of omega-3. Chia has both soluble and insoluble fiber, which is a great benefit. That’s why the seeds expand in liquids without losing any of the fiber content. If you consume four tablespoons per day of chia, you get 14 grams of fiber. By comparison, one packet of oatmeal has only four grams of fiber.

Although we eat a lot of salmon, no one in my family is very fond of taking fish oil supplements as a source of healthy fats. As chia is a very stable source of omega-3 fatty acids, we use it regularly to supplement our diets. A mere 3½ tablespoons contains as much omega-3s as a 32-ounce piece of salmon. Chia seeds can also be ground into flour as an alternative for those with gluten allergies, such as my oldest son.

Chia is often served in drinks or smoothies, but if you don’t want to use it in a drink it’s easy to sprinkle on your oatmeal, directly on your meals, or stir it into a Greek yogurt. Chia has a neutral flavor, so it goes with just about anything. And, as a bonus, chia seeds can be stored for long periods of time in your refrigerator or pantry without going rancid, which makes it easier to save money by purchasing them in bulk.


(1)      Guevara-Cruz, M., Tovar, A. R., Aguilar-Salinas, C., Medina-Vera, I., Gil-Zenteno, L., Hernández-Viveros, I., Torres, N. (2012). A dietary pattern including nopal, chia seed, soy protein, and oat reduces serum triglycerides and glucose intolerance in patients with metabolic Syndrome1-4. The Journal of Nutrition, 142(1), 64-9. Retrieved from

(2)      Travis, G. I., Jason, C. C., & Phillip, A. B. (2011). Omega 3 chia seed loading as a means of carbohydrate loading. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 25(1), 61-65. Retrieved from

(3)      Ross, B. M., Seguin, J., & Sieswerda, L. E. (2007). Omega-3 fatty acids as treatments for mental illness: which disorder and which fatty acid? Lipids in Health & Disease, 621-39. doi:10.1186/1476-511X-6-21

(4)      Coates, W. (2012). Chia: The complete guide to the ultimate superfood. Sterling Publishing: New York, NY.


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