Monthly Archives: August 2015

Why We Need To Eat More Fruits And Vegetables!

Are we eating enough vegetables and fruits? Fruits and vegetables are nutritious and delicious. They are packed with vitamins and minerals. As a balanced diet, it is suggested that adults eat 100-200 grams of fruits and 400-500 grams of vegetables every day. Fruits and veggies provide fiber that fills you up and keeps your digestive track happy. Fruits and veggies are nature’s treat. There are so many fruits and vegetables to choose from, what is the best for us?

Here in America, our biggest problem in balancing Yin and Yang is our diet. It is often referred to as the “Yang Diet” for it is composed of primarily foods and cooking methods which are yang qualities known as dry heat. As the stomach and intestines need moisture, our yang diet doesn’t include any. Too much Yang, results in a number of complications and perhaps eventually in a noticeable illness. As a result, an individual suffers from food blockage, stomach and intestinal pain, gas, a bloated stomach and so on. When the whole system becomes dry, skin dryness, psoriasis, dandruff, loss of hair and acne become just a few of the outcomes, which may result from too much heat in the system.

It is fundamental to health. We are what we eat. Our emotions, the change in season, climate and our sex may influence our health as well. Meaning, we have to create our health care, create a balanced diet, clearing negativity, keeping our earth clean and most important treat your body with respect and others as well.

Eating seasonally, so in warmer weather seasons you may have more fruits and vegetables, while in colder seasons more grains. Fruits that are grown locally, fresh and in room temperature, should avoid chilled fruits. The digestive system doesn’t function as well in summer as in other seasons and cold-temperature foods may reduce gastric juices, leading to poor appetite and indigestion. Some fruits should not be eaten on an empty stomach, including tomatoes, bananas, oranges, hawthorn and persimmon.

If you eat leafy green vegetables our brains function better, the thinking is clearer. The brain needs a fairly large supply of oxygen to function at its best. It is of utmost importance that our body receive enough oxygen, especially while curing any disease. Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, green vegetables and radish sprouts are all is cruciferous vegetables that bring about consistent types of changes in the gut bacteria that are known to metabolize glucosinolates, lignans and fiber. In fact, the ability to metabolize glucosinolates (and convert them into cancer-preventive isothiocyanates) may be a very important factor in prevention of certain cancers, especially cancers of the digestive tract.

It certainly takes time to prepare vegetables, but what a reward!



Recipe: The Next Best Thing – Delicious Home Made Pizza !!

Do you know of anyone who does not like pizza? I know there are people who would never eat pizza because of various health reasons. Some people are gluten sensitive, so regular pizza dough made from wheat flour is out of the question. For some, including my wife who are very sensitive (mildly allergic) to tomatoes, are forced eat pizza without tomato sauce. I must say though, one of the best pizzas I’ve ever ate had no tomato sauce on it. And I’ve also tried the pizza crust made from rice flour. They are actually not bad. Some people might argue for those who are lactose-intolerant that great tasting pizza can be made without any cheese. But what is a point of making a pizza (or even calling it a pizza) without cheese, tomato sauce or traditional crust made with wheat flour?

I know.  Pizza is not necessarily healthy. And I should not be encouraging you to eat a pizza. But I just wanted to show you how great tasting pizza can be made easily and cheaply at home using regular kitchen oven. You don’t need expensive wood-fired brick oven to do it. Yes, it is so good that you would never have to go to a pizza restaurant anymore.pp

Disclaimer: Just like making a great bread, making a great tasting authentic pizza crust requires skills and experience. So, I am not going to show you how to make a pizza dough. Instead, I will be using store bought pizza dough for this recipe for the sake of easiness. In this recipe, I will be using Trader Joe’s ‘Plain Pizza Dough’ which is amazingly good for the price you pay. It makes 2 medium-sized pizza and costs only $1.19!! That’s a steal, considering the time & effort that require to make a fresh dough from scratch at home. But for everything else I want you to consider using freshest and best ingredients for your pizza. Here is how I did it.

First I made tomato sauce from fresh ripe tomatoes from the garden. To be honest, tomatoes in my garden are not quite ripe yet. So I used the tomatoes that were given to me by one of our patients at Hen Sen Herbs. They were as sweet and ripe as they can be when I turned them into sauce. Making great tomato sauce is easy when you have ripe fresh-off-the-vine tomatoes. But it can never be made with store-bought tomatoes.

How to make tomato sauce:

Easy! Cut them into quarters and let them simmer in the big pot until meat of the tomatoes and juice are separated. Drain the juice into another pot (don’t throw away). Then press the meat of the tomatoes against fine metal mesh strainer into the pot with the tomato juice. Discard skin and seeds.  Then, reduce the watery sauce until desired consistency is achieved (slightly runny).


Preheat the oven to 500 degree F with pizza baking stone placed in the middle rack (for about 40 minutes to make sure the stone is really hot.


Key ingredient: garden fresh basil!

Key ingredient: garden fresh basil!

Home made tomato sauce, fresh Mozzarella cheese, Shaved Parmesan Cheese. Fresh Basil.

Optional ingredients: anything you like.

Crust preparation:

Divide the dough (Trader Joe’s) in half. Then form two tight, round balls. Each ball weighs 1/2 lb. So, if you are making a dough yourself, make 1 lb of dough. Let them rest for 10 minutes. When the dough is relaxed and pliable, hold the dough in your hands and press the dough with your finger into thick disk (about 4 inch in diameter). Again let them rest for 5 -10 minute, then continue pressing the dough with your fingers. When the disk of dough becomes too big to handle place them on the floured surface. Flour the top and spread the dough thin until the dough becomes 10 – 11 inches wide.

Important Trick!!!

Baking trick: parchment paper!

Baking trick: parchment paper!

Cut a parchment paper into round shape (10 -11 inches wide) with a little handle (see the image below). This little handle will come in handy when you need to remove it in the middle of baking.

Once the dough is on the parchment paper placed on the pizza peel, quickly spread the tomato sauce and sprinkle chopped basil over the sauce. Place fresh Mozzarella and shaved Parmesan cheese thinly over the crust. You can add pretty much any ingredients on the pizza you like, but never create a thick layer of ingredients. The crust will be very soggy if you do so. You want the crust to be crusty, don’t you?

What you must have:

Pizza baking stone & Pizza peel


Slide pizza (with parchment paper) onto hot baking stone. When the crust is hard enough after 1-2 minutes of baking, remove the parchment paper quickly by simply pulling the handle. The parchment paper makes it very easy for anyone to transfer pizza onto a stone. It slides right off the peel without making a mess. However, I noticed that parchment paper traps the moisture under the crust and the crust tends to become soggy. So, make sure to remove the parchment paper in the early stage of baking. When the cheese melted and crust is light brown, take it out and serve it hot! It takes about 6 – 7 minutes. When done right, you will hear the crackling sound as you run pizza cutter across the pizza.

It may not be as good as the professionally made pizza baked in wood-fired hearth oven. But it is the next best thing. I guarantee it. Enjoy!

-Kaz Isogai

When You Put One Foot In Front Of The Other

Sometimes, you have to just put one foot in front of the other to reach your destination. Even when the trail looks long, and you can’t see the end of the trail!

Last month, I went on my first backpacking trip! My Father-In-Law is an experienced mountaineer and he led me, my 9-year-old son, and husband on a 20-mile backpacking hike through the south Cascades. We climbed about 3,000ft in elevation reaching peaks of 6,400ft! The trip lasted 2 nights, and 2 and a half days.

©Holli Margell - Norse Peak Trail along the South Cascades.

©Holli Margell – Norse Peak Trail along the South Cascades.

Despite the blazing heat in Seattle, our trip was cold enough to need jackets and hats. The Cascades at those elevations were pleasant during the day and chilly in the evenings. We had mist and fog each day for parts of our trek. There was one day in particular when we left our campsite in the mist, and couldn’t see the peak we were going to reach. It was quiet. And, it was beautiful. The experience made me realize how much like real life the trip was – sometimes you can see where you are going, and sometimes you have an uphill climb that seems endless, but helps you reach a breath-taking view!

Now, I have to be honest, I left for the trip not knowing if I would enjoy it or not. Having never backpacked before, there were parts of this kind of trip I wasn’t sure I could handle. For example, you have to bury your poop six inches below the ground level. Yes, that means you have to dig a hole first, and then poop. And, you have to cook without a fire, using a tiny single pot to boil water. Speaking of water, you have to carry as much as you can, and hope to find some along the way and then sterilize it.

I didn’t mind the lack of basic necessities like a bathroom for a few nights. And, it was really amazing to be out of cell phone and Internet range. During our trek, we hiked along some of the Pacific Crest Trail, which is an amazing trail – it stretches from Mexico to Canada. Most of what we hiked was along the peak of the south Cascades. It was along this trail that we crossed paths with 6 other people. Then, a few trail runners along our other trails. So, we didn’t see more than 10 people the entire hike – talk about a quiet trip!

Looking back, I don’t think I ever would have imagined that I could make it along a trip like this. It really pushed me to accept the inconveniences and enjoy the trade off, being immersed in nature.

Our son was so glad to be at the end of the trail on the last afternoon, that as soon as we reached the old maintenance road to the trail head, he ran the rest of the way to the car. And, he wasn’t sore after 20 miles, but I sure was!

The biggest lesson this trip taught me was that you are never too old to try something new, and you’ll be surprised what you can do and see if you go for it.

Warmly, Holli Margell

Why We Need To Spend Time With Our Elders

Did you grow up with a Grandparent or elderly neighbor nearby? I did, and I know from experience that they taught me more than my parents could, in ways that only a life long lived would provide.

For example, my Grandmother would tell me about how different school was when she was in young and how she remembered living in Alaska before it was a state. Did you know it became our 49th state in 1959? Before that it was a U.S. Territory, and my Grandma’s Dad helped build Fort McGilvray to protect America from invasion during WWII.

And, my Grandfather would watch old television shows with as much enthusiasm as we had – excited for the suspense of a simple show like the old Lone Ranger. He wouldn’t just share the fun of a television show, he’d also share his family history of growing up as a Native American, and tell us about what real “Indians” were like – which was not the same as those on the TV shows. And when he was a kid, they weren’t cool. It was embarrassing for his family to be known as Indians. Some of his friends even had to stop playing with him when their families found out he wasn’t a white boy like them.

Last month, we had the pleasure of celebrating my Great-Aunt’s 95th Birthday. My grandparents are gone, and so my Great-Aunt holds the position of a Grandparent in my children’s lives. They have learned a lot by our visits with her. My son is just learning about American history in school, and was amazed to learn that Great Aunt lived during that time and worked while her husband served in the military. He gets to learn so much more than he would from the school history books short chapter on the subject.

And though I didn’t know her until I was 10 years-old, she has taught me a lot too! She has been that example of grace and fortitude as she has shared stories of her life, and advice for how to live mine: “Be yourself all the time.” She married a military man and raised a family during WWII, Vietnam and the Cold War while still being herself, raising to any occasion to help others.

As we struggle with keeping up with technology and work, we must not forget that we need to spend time with our elders. They have a lifetime of failures and successes to share with us if we just take the time to learn. And, it’s pretty cool to find out about relatives who were a part of history!