Traditional Natural Remedies 

Traditional Caribbean Cuisine is healthy because it is made with many unprocessed foods, uses smaller portions of meats, has a high content of fish, beans, and vegetables, and, most of all, because it is an eclectic mix of the best that African, European, Indian, and Chinese cuisines have to offer. Moreover, older West Indians have always been aware of the relationship between food and health. Perhaps the cuisine is healthy due to luck or happenstance. How else can anyone explain why some of the most highly rated medicinal herbs, e.g., ginger, garlic, all spice and hot peppers just happen to be the basic seasonings used in Jamaican cuisine.

In this section we will provide information on some of the benefits of some common tropical foods.

Cassava or Yucca

(also known as manioc and is used to make tapioca) can help prevent heart disease, reduce the risk of cancer, prevent cataracts, and help keep skin smooth. While cassava is not well known in the US it is the world's number two vegetable crop, after potatoes. Cassava is uniquely laden with iron plus vitamin C which you need to help your body to absorb iron. It is also a good source of magnesium which helps to protect your heart, bones, arteries and blood pressure. A half cup of cooked cassava contains 13 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for women and 30 percent for men. And because it also contains 35 percent of the daily value of vitamin C, the iron in cassava is much easier to absorb.


This favourite of vegetables can help lower blood pressure, prevent and treat ulcers, prevent constipation, decrease the risk of hear disease. While plantains look like large bananas they are as different as apples and oranges. Unlike bananas, plantains need to be cooked before they are eaten. Plantains also pack different nutrients. Ounce for ounce, plantains contain more potassium than bananas. That means a plateful of plantains will reduce high blood pressure. One cup of cooked plantains contain 716 milligrams of or 20 percent of the daily value of potassium. And potassium is well established as a key mineral for heart disease prevention. Studies show people whose diets are low in potassium are at higher risk for high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes. A cup of cooked plantains provide about 49 milligrams of magnesium, or more than 12 percent of the daily value. Magnesium is another mineral that can help lower blood pressure, especially among people who are sensitive to sodium. Therefore, next time you are at your favorite Jamaican eatery, load up on those plantains. (Source: The Doctors Book of Food Remedies, 1998 Rodale Inc.)


Forget what you have heard about this main staple of the Jamaican diet. Coconut oil is, "rich in lauric acid, "which new research shows raises good type HDL cholesterol, lowering heart disease risk, Lauric acid is also anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and antiviral, says lipid researcher Mary Enig, Ph.D., which also may help fight heart disease." (USA Today Sept. 26-28 2003)


You could say that Callaloo, a leafy vegetable, plays a role in the Jamaican diet that is similar to the role Spinach plays in the American diet. But that would understate the importance of callaloo in the Jamaican diet. And those who have had both agree callaloo has more going for it than spinach. Steamed callaloo is often served with breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is cooked with codfish and used in soups. And it is used increasingly in non-traditional Jamaican dishes such as quiche and omelets etc.

Callaloo is rich in nutrients including : iron and other minerals, vitamin C, flavonoids and other phytochemicals, calcium, and vitamin A. Callaloo has over four times the calcium, over two times the iron, and over two times the vitamin A compared to broccoli and other vegetables.


Lemon Grass tea

This a a very fragrant lemony-smelling grass.   It is taken during fevers as it produces profuse perspiration which cools down the body.   A lovely smell and great taste.

Cerasee tea

Cerasee tea cleanses the insides.   It is also  said to be good for stomach pains.   That's after you've got over the pain of having to drink it.   It is extremely bitter - no matter how much sugar you put in it.

Castor Oil

A dose of castor oil was felt useful to give a 'wash out' of the the rubbish that has been eaten.

Onion and Garlic.

Onion and Garlic reduce cholesterol levels.   Particularly if they are raw, or barely cooked.  


Ginger tea is used to warm the stomach and help to alleviate gas and stomach pains.    It is used with a little rum to relive the symptoms of flu, and to cleanse the kidneys.  Recent research has proven that it helps stimulate blood circulation.


The best liquid to add to the diet is water.    This of course is not a Caribbean phenomena,  but is essential for good health.


Aloe, Aloe Vera  

This is a tender perennial which makes a terrific houseplant, thriving in dim indoor light and with infrequent watering. The benefits of this plant are numerous. It can be taken internally and used externally.

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I came up with the idea to write about the Ital culture through brethren who I recently spoke with.  I know that this would be different and coming from a more personal approach.  So I mentioned the “Ital” culture… and you’re probably wondering what is Ital.  Ital food is derived from the word "vital food" (Self-determination of the black race resulted in the Rastafari usage of the word 'I" to replace the first letter of many words). Ital food means it is natural, pure and clean food. For a Rastafari it means no salt, no chemicals, no flesh, no blood, no alcohol, no cigarettes and no drugs.

I recently spoke to a self proclaimed ital who was at the same time drinking some Rita sorrel and this probed me to understand that the term Ital is slowly losing its flavor in the hands of many.
 (By the way Rita is a West Indian Carry out in Washington D.C)

After careful studies and observation, I have come to the realization that one cannot possible practice a pure, Ital diet within the borders of the United States of America and thus the term Ital is somewhat losing its flavor in the hands of many. And you may ask why I believe such a thing when many practice an Ital diet, well preparing Ital food starts way before you purchase or pick these foods and appropriately dish them.

The United States of America has been literally built on the backs of many and hence the earth reeks of death and hardship. And with the building of this Nation went the laying of metal pipes, burning and burring of garbage, a broken radiation monitoring system, a hike in factories and air and water pollution.

Now what is purity and how could we possible have pure plants when they survive on nutrients received from the environment. Using store bought fertilizers  are filled with growth enhancers and if you watched my recent post on facebook you can see what caused the explosion of watermelons in Japan- too much growth enhancers. Even if you grow your own consider what is in the dirt below, is this pure land?

Shopping at the most organic stores such as MOMs and Whole foods does not automatically mean pure foods. I have watched the production and packaging of many fruits and vegetables that are in Whole Food chains, they go through the same production line as other fruits and vegetables just a little more precaution is taken to ensure cleanliness and safety.  For example seaweed still comes from the contaminated oceans of China and Japan but because it is sold at Whole foods changes nothing. I recently looked at dried sea weed in Whole foods and the package said “May contain a trace amount of crustacean shellfish.”

So does it matter where our Ital food is grown or simply that it is organic?  I would like to consider the sources and the hands in the pot! Growing up in the Caribbean region I have the privilege of comparing  the two regions, I have seen fruits and vegetables grown on pure land that was handed down for generations and used solely for planting, and I have watched Ital foods being cooked on three stones and fire.  

What is your take on this?

The Food Guide Pyramid is one way for people to understand how to eat what is recommended. A rainbow of colored, vertical stripes represents the five food groups plus fats and oils.

Here's what the colors stand for
Orange - grains
Green - vegetables
Red- Fruits
Yellow - fats and oils
Blue - Milk and dairy products
Purple - Meat, beans, fish and nuts

I am a vegan and personally don’t eat everything that is listed on the food guide pyramid. If it isn’t culture friendly for you simply customize it to fit you. The smallest section of the Food Guide pyramid is fats, oils and sugars; this is because fats, oils and sugars aren’t exactly nutritious and are called empty calorie foods. Limit these foods if possible!

Remember my blog on color well if you can put all these colors on your plates throughout the day then you are on the right path. If you do not eat meats for example simple replace with the substitute of your choice! It is ok to eat more fruits and vegetables than recommended but this is only if your body is healthy and can handle all the sugars from the fruits. Although these sugars are natural people with diabetes for example have to be cautious!

Who says you have to eat 2000 calories a day?  Well some smart guys came up with that but if you are extremely active then congratulations! Eating plenty calories a day with no exercise/physical activity can lead to weight gain and other issues.

The Food Guide Pyramid speaks about serving sizes, the average American does not follow these serving sizes and if you look at it Oriental populations and Europeans don’t eat as much meat as Americans do! Your chicken thigh or chicken breast is often bigger than it should be. In fact it is recommended that your salmon, chicken or any serving of meat be the size of the palm of your hands. Fruits and vegetables should take up more space on your plate than meats and carbohydrates! Keep that in mind the next time you eat a meal.

If you were standing in a grocery store isle looking for a new taste, you’d probably not be standing there too long if one product was draped in bright colors and shiny wrappers while the other product was wrapped in a plain white paper. You’d pick the colorful product simply because it may appear more appealing and you may begin to think it might taste as good as it looks! 

We definitely eat with the eyes; if you would like to debate this simply answer this question first. Would you be content eating this?
Many studies have been done on this. For example, adults offered six colored flavors of jellybeans mixed together in the same bowl ate 69 percent more than when the colors were each placed in separate bowls. Another earlier study found that moviegoers given an extra-large bucket of popcorn will eat up to 50 percent more than those given a container one size smaller — even when the popcorn is stale

Because colors and presentation are so important many restaurants and food manufacturers add colors and dyes to their food for more visual appeal.  People have been conditioned to apply taste to certain colors. Apart from the colors on your plate, did you know that the colors of dishes, table linens and wall color can all have an effect on your appetite? Some colors can excite your senses and entice you to eat more, while others can actually help curb mindless snacking.

Red = Enthusiasm/ Energy
Orange = Eat with caution/Gusto

Yellow = Memorable/Exciting

Green = Health/Eat without risk

Blue= Appetite suppressant

White = Causes over eating/mindless snacking

Black = Eat with risk

This is important to remember (please keep in mind French fries, bread and popcorn). On the opposite end of the spectrum, white, which is used abundantly in many homes, restaurants, stores and more creates a mindless effect when it comes to your eating behaviors. Foods that are white are said to discourage your brain from caring about consumption and dishware that's all white can encourage over eating and leave you feeling less satisfied.

Many vegetarians and vegans eat soy products such as myself, most common is soymilk. Over the past decade, soy foods and good health have become inextricably linked in the national consciousness. According to annual U.S. consumer attitude surveys by the United Soybean Board, 85 percent of those polled in 2008 rated soy products as "healthy," a significant increase from the 59 percent who in 1997 thought this was the case.

Whole soy products like tofuare a good source of vegetarian protein, and fermented soy products like tempeh and miso are easier to digest than tofu, because the fermentation converts sugars that cause gas or other reactions. I think its fine to eat small quantities of those foods, if you have no adverse reactions.

Rumors about the negative effects soy products have on men are rampant. Soy has an extraordinary amount of estrogen in it - every 100 grams of soy protein you consume has as much estrogen as a high-dose birth control pill! This is said to be especially damaging to infants, making soy formula particularly vital to avoid, but it's dangerous to men – many believe it's responsible for the recent rash of "man-boobs" hitting America - and women. But let’s not blame it all on the soy, most process foods these days are filled with growth hormones and other unhealthy stuff.

I personally recommend my male friends/family to lower the soy consumption, since it's better to be on the safe side!

But don’t fear! Generations of Asians have regularly consumed soy products without fertility disorders, and Asian countries have prodigiously produced very healthy, highly functioning children for centuries. According to New Scientist, “Chavarro admits that many East Asian men consume much more soya than the participants in his trial and do not develop fertility problems. He speculates that his study found a link between soya and low sperm count because many of the participants were overweight or obese. Men with high levels of body fat produce more estrogen than their slim counterparts.”

If you are unsure, there are other alternatives such as hemp milk and almond milk.

Many women shun the idea of possible having candidiasis or simply yeast infection. It is an infection caused by a group of microscopic fungi or yeast. There are more than 20 species of Candida, the most common being Candida albicans. These fungi live on all surfaces of our bodies. Under certain conditions, they can become so numerous they cause infections, particularly in warm and moist areas. Examples of such infections are vaginal yeast infections, thrush, skin and diaper rash.

In women, yeast infections are the second most common reason for vaginal burning, itching, and discharge. Yeasts are found in the vagina of most women and can overgrow if the environment in the vagina changes. Antibiotic and steroid use is the most common reason for yeast overgrowth. But pregnancy, menstruation, sperm, diabetes, and birth control pills also can contribute to getting a yeast infection.

When diagnosed with candidiasis decrease or avoid sugar and yeast foods in your diet as sugar promote yeast growth. It is what they feed on!

Yogurts with probiotics(live cultures including acidophilus and bifidus) tend to destroy yeast.

Eating plenty of fresh vegetables preferably raw or steamed is a preferred diet. This is very important on the candida diet because vegetables absorb fungal poisons (mycotoxins) and carry them out of the body.

Don’t be ashamed to address signs and symptoms with your doctor. It’s good to be in the Know!

There is now a natural product known as argan oil that is gaining in popularity with hair stylists.

Argan oil is oil produced from the kernels of the argan tree, endemic to Morocco, that is valued for its nutritive, cosmetic and numerous medicinal properties. The Argan tree grows wild in semi-desert soil, its deep root system helping to protect against soil erosion and the northern advance of the Sahara.

Before modern times, the Berbers or Amazighs(indigenous people of Morocco) of this area would collect undigested argan pits from the waste of goats which climb the trees to eat their fruit. The pits were then ground and pressed to make the nutty oil used in cooking and cosmetics. However, the oil used in cosmetic and culinary products available for sale today has most likely been harvested and processed with machines in a verifiably clean and sanitary way.

The oil was sold in Moroccan markets even before the Phoenicians arrived, yet the hardy argan tree has been slowly disappearing. Overgrazing by goats and a growing, wood-hungry local population have whittled the number of surviving trees down to less than half of what it was 50 years ago.

All argan sold today is produced by a women's cooperative that shares the profits among the local women of the Berber tribe. The cooperative has established an ecosystem reforestation project so that the supply of argan oil will not run out and the income that is currently supporting the women will not disappear. The money is providing healthcare and education to the local women, and supporting the entire community as a whole.

Argan Oil Benefits the Skin
There are many argan oil benefits for skin that make this oil a very popular skincare product among women. Argan oil helps in reducing the wrinkles and softening the skin. It has also shown to increase the elasticity and tightening of the skin. Benefits of argan oil for skin also include regeneration of the skin by revitalizing the cell functions that prevent early skin aging due to sun, pollution, stress, smoking, etc.

Argan Oil Benefits for Hair
Split ends can be avoided using argan oil and damaged hair can be restored. Argan oil health benefits for hair also include providing a remarkable shine to dull hair. It not only prevents hair damage due to styling and outdoor activities, but also improves elasticity and reduces hair loss due to breakage.

Argan Oil Benefits for Body
Benefits of argan oilare not only limited to skin, hair and nails, but also to the internal body health. It is also known to sooth and provide relief from pain due to rheumatism and arthritis. Argan oil has a positive effect against cholesterol and atherosclerosis. It helps protect the cardiovascular system. It is also beneficial in case of burn injuries and in enhancing prostaglandins synthesis.

The Food Inc trailer is available to view on the website 
If you have not seen the Food Inc movie please consider purchasing it, the book is also available at amazon. It is very interesting and informative!