In honor of National Nutrition Month, St. Rose Hospitals in southern Nevada were offering free healthy eating classes. This morning I took a class at the San Martin campus on ‘Foods that Heal.’ The course was taught by master herbalist and holistic health educator Nicole Carter, who teaches a variety of healthy lifestyle courses throughout the Vegas valley. To also put in a plug for the classes offered through St. Rose’s Barbara Greenspun Womens Care Centers of Excellence, not only was my class today free, but it also included a free healthy and vegan-friendly lunch. Most of their classes that do charge are at a minimal fee.
The purpose of the class was to learn about “common foods and not so common foods that have interesting health benefits.” Featured food items were flax seeds, coconuts, chia seeds (yes they do come from the same plants that make chia pets), walnuts, pineapples, pomegranates, cranberries, almonds, carob, avocados, and aloe vera. In a country where the main staples of our diet have shifted to soybeans, wheat, high fructose corn syrup and other genetically modified remnants of the corn crop, and highy processed foods, it was refreshing to learn that maybe our ancestors were on to something when they ate basic, high-quality plant-based food products that contain all of the nutrients our bodies need to sustain themselves.
For example, did you know that coconut water is an excellent all-natural sports drink without the added sugar, and it is a good option for someone who is fasting? Fresh pineapple may be rubbed on the face to prevent wrinkles, and forget expensive store-brand 100% cranberry juice – you can make your own for super cheap with frozen cranberries, water and stevia. Interestingly, an avocado takes 9 months to grow (and looks curiously similar to a uterus), and it is one of the most healthy foods for women’s health and during pregnancy.
If you visit Nicole Carter’s website, www.herbalexperience.net, you can find a list of her upcoming classes and events. One can also join the Herbalist Club, where you get a one-year herb of the month subscription complete with recipes and DIY kit, online access to videos and podcasts, and membership in the Las Vegas Herb Co-operative, including 40% discounts on their products. This is good for someone like me, who is terrible at growing plants. Why not have someone else do it for me?
I think it’s so interesting that our grandparent’s were farmers, and now we’re back to learning how we can eat more sustainably. It really shows how much the US has changed in the past 50 years (and not so much for the better). But, don’t get me started…