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January 9, 2018

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What is an Anti-Inflammatory Diet?

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”  – Hippocrates

Whole foods, anti-inflammatory diet

At Pacific Quest, we believe food is medicine.  We provide whole foods, hypoallergenic, anti-inflammatory, and blood sugar balancing diet, rich in critical nutrients for optimizing health.  There is a daily focus on healthy foods and nutritionally complete meals, which mainly consist of organic fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and grains with the additional sources of animal protein, tofu, dairy and eggs. In addition, each meal is composed of complex carbohydrates, protein, and plenty of vegetables or fruits.

What is an anti-inflammatory diet?

The Pacific Quest diet is an anti-inflammatory diet, but what does that mean?  Simply put, it does not contain inflammatory foods; such as sugar, alcohol, caffeine, corn syrup, trans fats, food additives, preservatives or hormones.

Inflammation contributes to the majority of the health issues and uncomfortable symptoms, which your body can experience. This includes depression, type II diabetes, heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disease, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, mental confusion, fatigue, hormonal imbalance, skin diseases, gastrointestinal issues, attention deficit, and the list goes on.   Anti-inflammatory foods include most all fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish, organic eggs, whole grains and some herbs.

While at Pacific Quest, students learn that what you put in your body directly affects how you feel and are taught the basics of nutrition and how the body uses food as fuel. Adolescent and young adult students learn how to cook and prepare food using the freshest and most natural ingredients.

Here is a recipe that students prepare:

Thai Basil Eggplant, Snap Peas, & Broccoli

Ingredients:

Eggplant, Snap peas, Broccoli, Onion, Garlic, Basil, Salt, Olive oil

Prepare:

Harvest 3-5 large eggplants and 16 oz basil leaves

Process in kitchen and set aside

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Chop broccoli and eggplant into bite-sized pieces

Hand tear snap pea tips away from snap pea

Pour vegetables into large bowl and lightly drizzle with olive oil.  Toss until all vegetables are coated and place on large cooking tray.

Cook for least 40 minutes

Dice 1 onion

Rough chop 1.5 bulbs of garlic

Rough chop basil

Lightly saute onion and garlic, wait…then add basil to lightly saute in – set aside.

Set up blender and combine:

Garlic-onion-basil saute, and 2-3 oz olive oil, and pinch of salt.  Blend until smooth.

Check vegetables and when ready, arrange vegetables on plate and add a small dollop of blended sauce atop vegetables.

Enjoy!

October 20, 2017

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Eat Local Initiative at PQ!

By: Dara Downs, Alumni & Family Services Liaison

Green beans thriving at Reeds Bay

In mid April of 2016 we started the Eat Local Initiative at our Young Adult Program at Reeds Bay.  This initiative was designed to help track the amount of produce being harvested, being cooked, as well as to help create motivation in the student milieu. It’s set up so that every time we grow and harvest food from our gardens, we weigh it, clean in, and document it. Then when it’s time for meal prep, we check to see if any of our freshly harvested produce can be cooked with that meal. If this is the case, then the food is used during that meal and documented. At the end of the month, based on how much home grown produce was cooked in our meals, the students are given a stipend to spend on specialty or rare items to use in the kitchen. In the past student have purchased cacao nibs, fruit leathers, passion fruit, dried spiced bananas, coconuts, ulu flower, and other island treats.

I work closely with Annette Nickontro, our Young Adult Kitchen Manager, who is really hands on in motivating students to use produce from the garden.  She oversees every part of the kitchen, working directly with students in creating weekly menus and recipes.  For many students, wandering the garden to collect herbs and produce is a whole new experience. Annette notes, “It’s been exciting to see the students pulling produce they grew from seeds and creating some amazing recipes for things like hot sauce, pesto, leafy green stir-fries, and kale chips!”  It’s a wonderful collaboration for both Annette and I to help students see their potential in gardening and cooking from something so small as a seed and feeding their fellow students.

Working together we found that since the Eat Local Initiative started, we have harvested 990 pounds of produce from our gardens, and of that, we have cooked 490 pounds of food!  With these numbers, we concluded that we are harvesting approximately 55 pounds of food per month and we are preparing about 27 pounds of food from our gardens per month.

Basil harvest for fresh pesto!

Once I found out how close we were to reaching 1000 pounds, I told our current students, and their immediate response was, “What?! Only 10 pounds away from 1000, we are so close, let’s keep eating what we grow! That’s a crazy amount of food.” Soon after, Annette and the students harvested 12 pounds of Basil and made a bunch of pesto to freeze for the winter! So we are happy to say that after a year and a half we have reached 1000 pounds of harvested produce from our gardens.  When asked to comment, PQ’s Horticultural Therapy, Travis Slagle, M.A. said, “The need for self-sufficiency is both practical and emotional.  The young people we serve benefit by knowing where their food comes from and taking an active role in sustaining their community.  At PQ, we believe the experience of self-sufficiency is transferable and relevant across the lifespan.”

With the Eat Local Initiative in place, we are focused on creating realistic goals and continuing to build a self sustaining agricultural model at PQ. We are excited to celebrate this accomplishment!

October 11, 2017

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Healthy Self = Heal + Thy + Self

By: Cynthia Albers, Admissions Coordinator

Harvesting fresh green beans from the garden

There is an onslaught of advice, cautions, directives and warnings supposedly to guide us toward a healthy lifestyle.  So, what, exactly, does it mean to be healthy?  What does healthy feel like?  At Pacific Quest students are given the opportunity to ask themselves this same question and discern what that means to them by practicing the five pillars of health…and nutrition is on that list. I asked myself those questions starting around age 16 and now into my 7th decade, many choices, actions and paths have brought me to the happy condition of enjoying health.  Undeniably, food and all that surrounds it, has played a big part.  Here’s part of that story…

I grew up with 8 siblings, birth position 2, in Maryland, just south of the Mason-Dixon line. At age 6, our brood moved into a home my parents built in the country, where we kids quickly learned the joy and freedom of roaming the woods, waterfront and fields that were part of our new domain.  Our diet was like that of most Americans of the era: 3 squares a day, with flesh featured at dinner; milk, kool-aid, water and the occasional soda pop for beverages; sandwiches of lunch meat or tuna on white Wonder Bread for school lunch, and hot or cold cereal with milk for most breakfasts. Stony Creek, an inlet to the Chesapeake Bay, supplied fresh fish and crabs, caught by our own hands, so seafood was frequently on the menu. A garden plot was carved out and tended by the clan.  As kids, we hated it!  All that work that took us away from exploring. But then, came the strawberries, cantaloupes, green beans, kale and corn on the cob, which we frequently ate right off the stalk ~ raw and full of  sweet goodness!  I began to realize how yummy these foods were, especially compared to the slimy, horrid mash that is canned spinach in the dead of winter.  I was developing a deep connection to sourcing my own food, though I had no idea at the time.

Late summers were spent helping my mother with canning: prepping and blanching corn, tomatoes and green beans, then ladling the hot veggies into sterilized jars; turn ‘em upside down to wait for the tell-tale “Pop!” signaling the seal. In the damp coolness of Autumn we took frenzied forays into conifer forests, with cousins galore, each of us given a large brown paper grocery bag and entrusted with a serrated knife. We were set loose to find and sever the wild mushrooms that lay hidden in beds of pine needles.  Now that was my kinda fun! Many bushel baskets were fungi-filled, and the families joined at our house for cleaning and sautéing the ‘shrooms with onions and butter, then filling quart plastic bags to be frozen. The bounty was distributed among the families and was served at holiday dinners all winter.

The desire to gather and grow food had inculcated my sensibilities and would last a lifetime.

Preparing a healthy meal at PQ

Fulfilling that desire has waxed and waned over the years, changing with occupation, domicile, region and season.  On the shores of Hood Canal, Washington, oysters were free for the plucking and shucking, along with wild blackberries copious along roadways. Montana mountains gave huckleberries by the bucketful, boletes and coral mushrooms to fill the pot; hunter friends who shared venison, bear (yes, bear) and elk sausage satisfied my omnivore leanings. In Hawaii, where a third of my years were lived, our jungle homestead boasted 4 varieties of avocado, papayas, bananas, citrus, and required the patience of 2 years for white pineapples; collards were endless and found their way into nearly every dinner dish.

Now, home is the high desert mountains of the Southern Sierra, gardening in this arid climate with mostly granitic soil beckons an entirely new approach. Apricot, pomegranate and mulberry trees grow most willingly here and also resist the nibbling of deer above ground and gopher below. I’ll undoubtedly find ways to forage and grow food to fuel both the yearnings and health. Doing so feeds more than the just my body…it feeds my soul.   Pacific Quest fosters ways for students and staff alike to build a meaningful connection to food and nutrition.  May connections realized at PQ stay with each of us for a lifetime and fuel health for years to come.

February 20, 2017

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Eating Disorder Treatment: A Different Approach at PQ

By: Andrea Sussel, MSS, LCSW

It’s time to talk about it

Eating Disorder Treatment: A Different Approach From Traditional Models | Pacific Quest

Andrea Sussel, MSS, LCSW

The National Eating Disorders Association has created National Eating Disorders Awareness (#NEDAwareness) Week to shine the spotlight on eating disorders and put life-saving resources into the hands of those in need. This year’s theme is It’s Time to Talk About It. Andrea Sussel, PQ Therapist, shares how we can make that happen without doing further harm.

Eating disorders, food and body image are not easy things to discuss. Conversations can be riddled with unintended triggers, for example, I have heard from many people who are in recovery say that when someone tells me I look “healthy” they instead hear “you look fat”. So how do we discuss these issues without contributing to the struggles of another?

  1. Focus on what our bodies can DO and how they FEEL, not on how they LOOK.
    Because our approach is one of whole-person wellness, students can begin to focus on what their bodies need and how their bodies feel versus how they look. While this is occurring, we are simultaneously providing a lot of education – including lots of research – about whole-body, whole-person wellness. From a programmatic perspective, shifting this focus includes de-emphasize mirror gazing (at PQ we have very few to begin with) and also having students wear clothes that are loose fitting and uniform.
  2. Remember that exercise and movement is for our physical and mental health, not for weight loss.
    Experiencing what are bodies can do, and moving them shamelessly is an essential part of healing from an eating disorder. At PQ, we educate our students about metabolism and how food as fuel translates into a greater capacity to live our lives with more vibrant energy. Movement takes the form of working in the garden, yoga, swimming, weekend hikes, and daily core workouts. It takes reinforcement to rewire the societal messages that tell us to exercise to control weight. At Pacific Quest, we move for a higher quality existence, one that helps us feel more connected to our bodies and our passions.
  3. Speak up when we hear “Fat Talk”, don’t let it go unaddressed.
    Pacific Quest is a Fat Talk free zone. Having appropriate boundaries about what we can and can’t talk about helps not only break the pattern of negative self talk, but gives space to encourage new and healthier patterns to emerge. PQ is also “lookism free”. Lookism is defined as a “construction of a standard for beauty and attractiveness, and judgments made about people on the basis of how well or poorly they meet the standard.” At Pacific Quest, you can be healthy at any size. We don’t subscribe to one “look” being beautiful – all looks, shapes, and sizes are!
  4. Remember, food is medicine.
    Sometimes what isn’t being said is just as important as what is. Getting involved in food preparation can be a healing activity, as individuals start to rebuild their relationship with food. And at Pacific Quest, growing your own food is akin to teaching someone how to fish; learning and beginning to appreciate that entire developmental process can lead to lifelong shifts in understanding and healing. Students have the opportunity to learn about their own relationship with/to food as well as the relationship with their body. The place where these two relationships overlap is in the garden, making Horticultural Therapy a powerful therapeutic modality. There is also a lot of healing that comes from preparing your own food in a community setting. Because Pacific Quest is not a primary eating disorder program, students with eating disorder patterns are able to observe and “rise to” the normative eating habits of the rest of the group.

The Pacific Quest model imparts skills to make progress and healing sustainable for eating disorder recovery for a lifetime: You learn how to truly feed all your hungers at Pacific Quest.

February 13, 2017

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Oh Coconuts!

By Kate Goodwin, Young Adult Wellness Medical Supervisor

Coconut Harvest at Pacific Quest Wilderness Therapy Program

Coconut has many uses and health benefits

The tropical coconut is an incredible superfood with endless uses, especially in Polynesian cultures.  The Hawaiians used “Niu” or coconut for drink, food, thatching, hats, baskets, furniture, mats, cordage, clothing, charcoal, brooms, fans, ornaments, musical instruments, shampoo, containers, oil for fuel, light, ointments, soap and more.

Traditionally, a coconut palm was planted at a Hawaiian’s birth with a he’e (octopus) under it for fertilizer.  After the tree fruits at age seven, it will continue to fruit for 70-100 years to provide food for the individual or community.  Just one tree can produce 50 coconuts a year!

Coconut meat contains high quantities of lauric acid, a rare medium-chain saturated fatty acid.  Lauric acid is the reason coconut oil is so good for your skin, it can reduce bacterial and fungal infections while moisturizing.  Consuming the coconut meat provides B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.  Coconut water is an alkali producer in the digestive system and can help balance the body’s pH.  The water inside a coconut is sterile, yet packed with nutrients and electrolytes, it could even be used in a pinch for IV rehydration.

During a recent wellness training with Annie, the students learned how to pick a perfect coconut and “tap” into it to drink the water.  The coconuts were then cracked open to enjoy the delicious meat inside.  They also learned how to fashion a makeshift deodorant out of coconut oil as well as learning how the niu is culturally relevant to the Hawaiians.

How to select the perfect drinking coconut:

Coconut Harvest at Pacific Quest Wilderness Therapy Program

Coconut ready for drinking!

The perfect drinking coconut is full-sized, yet immature. Green and picked from the tree is ideal (yellow color and found on the ground is okay and still delicious).

Up to one quart of water is inside, but you should not hear “sloshing” when you shake it.  If the nut sloshes, it is no longer sterile and could cause some digestive irritation.

The yellow or browning coconut is mature when it drops to the ground. There is still some water in the cavity, which can be combined to make coconut milk. Coconut milk is a blend of coconut water and the scrapings of the coconut meat. This milk is a good source of iron and contains calcium, phosphorus, protein and vitamins.

Wahi ka niu, break open the coconut!

January 7, 2017

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Winter Solstice Celebration at PQ!

By:  Clementine Wilson, Adolescent Field Manager

Pacific Quest hosted our annual Winter Solstice celebration for our students and employees last month! We were able to hold it on the actual date of the Solstice – marking the shortest day of the year.

Pacific Quest Wilderness Therapy Celebrates Winter Solstice

Students preparing for the Winter Solstice celebration

““Solstice” comes from two Latin words: sol meaning “sun” and sistere meaning “to stand still” because it appeared as though the sun and moon had stopped moving across the sky. This longest night of the year, followed by a renewal of the sun, demonstrates the cyclical order of the cosmos. In this way, celebrating the solstice can be a beautiful remembrance that our lives are part of a larger order, always changing, always renewing.”

The solstice holiday focuses on the natural cycles of life, connection to the land, and the winter harvest. Program Guides led students through themed land lessons and activities in camp leading up to the meal. The students choreographed and performed a “Mele Kalikimaka” hula dance, a live performance of the Lorax, and a guided meditation walk over to the imu where the meal was prepared. They ended the activities with a gratitude circle before sitting down to eat together.

Pacific Quest Wilderness Therapy Celebrates Winter Solstice

Preparing the imu, traditional underground oven

Sharing food, an important part of any celebration, is particularly meaningful during the solstice, as it represents faith in the return of the sun and the harvest. We prepared pork, turkey and tofu in our imu, a traditional Hawaiian underground oven.  To make our imu, we dug a hole in the ground and placed rocks and wood inside.  Then a fire was started, creating a bed of coals and heating up the rocks.  Next, banana leaves and other plant materials were placed in the pit, which created steam. The foods to be cooked were placed inside, and more plant materials got piled on top, followed by water soaked burlap sacks. Finally, everything was covered and weighted down with rocks and dirt to prevent steam from escaping. The food steamed in the imu for hours, until it was moist and tender. In addition, we used much of our own PQ harvest (especially our kabocha squash) as part of this meal.  We enjoyed a delicious feast and it was so beautiful and inspiring to see the students and guides take time to prepare for this celebration. Throughout the day I witnessed a wonderful balance of laughter and reverence!

December 20, 2016

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Cooking with PQ: Golden Milk Recipe

Check out the previous blog post on the history and benefits of turmeric, something we grow plenty of at PQ! Below is the recipe mentioned in that post. Perfect for a warm and healthy alternative this time of year!

Golden Milk Recipe

Cooking with Turmeric: Golden Milk Recipe - Pacific Quest: Wilderness Therapy for Teens & Young Adults

Got [golden] milk?!

Yield: 2 cups
Active Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk, preferably coconut milk beverage or almond milk
1 (1-inch) piece turmeric, unpeeled, blended, or 1/2 teaspoon dried turmeric
1 (1/2-inch) piece ginger, unpeeled, blended
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
Ground cinnamon (for serving)

Preparation

Whisk coconut milk, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, honey, coconut oil, peppercorns, and 1 cup water in a small saucepan; bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer until flavors have melded, about 10 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into mugs and top with a dash of cinnamon. Golden milk can be made 5 days ahead. Store in an airtight container and chill. Warm before serving.

Cooks’ Note

Using fresh turmeric adds a clean, bright flavor to this drink, but dried turmeric can be substituted when fresh is not available. Keep in mind that dried turmeric will settle to the bottom of the mug, so stir well before drinking.

Read more about turmeric and it’s medicinal properties in this blog post!

By: Kate Goodwin, Wellness Medical Supervisor

December 14, 2016

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Makahiki Celebrations at Pacific Quest

By:  Janna Pate, Academic Coordinator

Makahiki is a holiday season that marks the end and new beginning of the yearly farming cycle in Hawaii. It is similar in timing and purpose to Thanksgiving, Oktoberfest, and other harvest celebrations. At Pacific Quest, we celebrate Makahiki throughout the month of November.

Our celebrations culminate in a day of cultural lessons, including storytelling, games, crafts, chants, and dancing. At the end of it all, there is a Makahiki feast that we cook in a traditional Hawaiian imu, or underground oven.

Makahiki Celebrations at Pacific Quest Wilderness Therapy

Hand painted garden sign

During the days that lead up to our culminating celebration, students at Pacific Quest turn their attentions to harvesting fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs from the garden. Some of this bounty goes toward our meal preparations for the Pacific Quest community, and some is donated to the local farmer’s market.  During Makahiki season, Pacific Quest students make a special effort to donate to the farmer’s market in abundance. Our donations may include handmade bundles of fresh herbs, greens, or flowers; seedlings and shoots from our nursery; hand-painted gourds and garden signs; hand-picked avocados and citrus fruits from our fruiting trees; a wide-array of organic vegetables; and more.

Traditionally, once tributes like these were collected from around the island, communities gathered to celebrate Makahiki with feasts and games. Both men and women and everyone from chiefs to commoners competed. Pacific Quest students celebrate in a similar way.  Throughout the month of November, we teach our students traditional Makahiki games. In ancient Hawaii, the main purpose of these games was to train warriors. As such, Makahiki games tend to focus on building strength, stamina, and agility. We focus on building those skills with our students as well by facilitating traditional Hawaiian games like ikaika (lifting of stones), moa pahe’e (sliding of wooden darts or, at Pacific Quest, lengths of bamboo), and foot races.

In addition to physical challenges, we also teach Makahiki games that challenge the mind. For example, we teach konane, or Hawaiian checkers. Traditionally, konane is played on a board with 64 playing pieces made of black lava stone and white coral. At Pacific Quest, we use black lava stone and red cinder from the paths of our gardens.

Makahiki Celebrations at Pacific Quest Wilderness Therapy

Traditional Hawaiian craft-making, Lauhala weaving

We teach traditional Hawaiian craft-making as well. One such practice is lauhala weaving, or weaving with the leaves of the hala tree. Lauhala weaving has been a part of Hawaiian culture for thousands of years. In ancient times, weavers transformed hala leaves into everything from floor mats to pillows and sails. At Pacific Quest, we teach our students how to craft lauhala bracelets and headbands using hala leaves from the trees in our camps.

We are also lucky enough to have staff who are trained in hula dancing and traditional Hawaiian chanting and who graciously bring those lessons to our students with permission and well-wishes from their own kumus, or teachers. Hula and chanting go hand-in-hand, and both were a major part of Makahiki celebrations in ancient Hawaii, especially in the creation of ceremonial spaces. We use them to create ceremonial spaces at Pacific Quest as well.

In ancient Hawaii, it was a processional ceremony that marked the beginning of the Makahiki season. The chief carried a staff topped by a small carved figure and a crossbar supporting a white sheet of kapa, or cloth, around the island in a clockwise direction. Stopping at the boundary of each ahupua’a, or land division, the chief collected gifts and offerings from a stone ahu, or altar.

Hawaiian staff members from across multiple departments at Pacific Quest came together to create a replica of the traditional staff for students in the adolescent program to observe. This replica stood in the dining area where students brought offerings of food from their camps for the community to share. Some camps made organic salads and homemade dressings while others made honey-glazed carrots, stuffing, or mashed potatoes and gravy.

This year, we cooked kalua turkey and pork in the imu at Pacific Quest. For vegetarians, we also prepared a dish called tofu laulau, or tofu wrapped in taro leaf. And of course, there were also desserts: sweet potato haupia pie and kulolo, a sweet taro dish.

Here is a recipe that our logistics team uses for kulolo:

Kulolo (PQ Style)

Ingredients:
4 cups taro
12 oz honey
1 cup coco milk
8 pc ti leaf

Directions:
Grate taro until you have 4 cups.
Put taro in a ziploc bag. Mix in honey and coconut milk.
Line pan with ti leaf, leaving half of the leaf sticking out from the pan.
Add mixture to the pan on top of the ti leaf and flatten out.
Wrap the remainder of the leaf over the flattened kulolo mixture.
Cover with aluminum foil.
Bake in oven at 400 degrees for 1.5 hours.
Remove foil from tray and cook for another 30 minutes.

Yield 1 half pan

Makahiki Celebrations at Pacific Quest Wilderness Therapy

Poi pounding

In addition to this taro-based dessert dish, students in the adolescent program had the opportunity to experience poi, a taro paste that was the main staple of the ancient Hawaiian diet. The Hawaiian cultural liaison at Pacific Quest provided the community with traditional stone poi pounders, and students learned to pound the pa’i ‘ai, or freshly cooked taro, with short, quick strokes and little dabs of water to keep the poi paste moist. This can be a bit of a sticky process, but also a satisfying one, even for students who remain a bit skeptical about the flavor of poi. It’s hard not to enjoy this type of “work.”

Once all of the cultural activities conclude and the food is prepared, therapists at Pacific Quest set the tone for the culminating feast by holding a therapeutic group in each camp on gratitude. Gratitude is culturally significant to the Makahiki season, and, as our therapists teach, it is of great personal significance as well. Gratitude has been shown to improve physical and psychological health, promote healthy relationships, enhance empathy, reduce aggression, promote better sleep, improve self-esteem, and increase mental strength. Whatever our struggles in life, a daily dose of gratitude is surely a part of the cure.

And so, after students bring forward their food offerings and chant the Oli Mahalo, a Hawaiian gratitude chant, the feast at Pacific Quest begins, carrying our Makahiki celebrations to a joyful close. Traditionally, Makahiki begins and ends with the timing of the Makali’i, or Pleiades, in the night sky. At Pacific Quest, students can observe the Makali’i during their nightly meditations, though perhaps it is during the afternoon Makahiki feast when they have the brightest constellation of stars in their eyes.

November 21, 2016

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PQ Presents at IECA Conference in New Orleans

By: Yvette Slagle, Communications Manager

Pacific Quest’s Clinical Director, Dr. Lorraine Freedle and Medical Director, Dr. Britta Zimmer recently co-presented at the 2016 Independent Educational Consultant Association conference in New Orleans.  Their presentation “The Gut Brain Connection: Emerging Trends in Integrative Health” began with the simple question, “What comes to mind when you hear the term ‘gut feeling’?”  Audience members commented “intuition,” “instinct,” and “trust”.  With more than 90 % of the body’s serotonin being created in the digestive tract, this collaborative presentation highlighted how “gut feelings” are real, and how a “second brain” consisting of millions of neural networks and micro bacteria work together to send signals from the gut to the brain.  Research suggests an imbalance in the gastrointestinal tract can lead to an imbalance in the brain resulting in a myriad of issues ranging from anxiety, depression, mood dysregulation and autoimmune disease.

Pacific Quest Presents at IECA Conference New Orleans

Dr. Britta Zimmer and Denise Westman at IECA New Orleans

The session focused on the importance of treating the whole person in an informed and targeted manner to maximize the effectiveness of treatment.  Dr. Zimmer shared current research that suggests inflammation in the gut directly correlates to inflammation in the brain, and the ways in which gut microbiota affects the state of mind.  She highlighted the importance of consuming probiotics found in yogurt and fermented foods.  In addition, she discussed inflammatory substances – processed foods, environmental toxins and emotional stress and the importance of decreasing inflammation in the body through sleep hygiene, physical activity, deep breathing and stress resiliency.

Following the presentation, Pacific Quest’s Outreach Director, Denise Westman, commented, “I’m always so energized after hearing my colleagues engaged and excited to learn more about this important work we are doing with our students. We are so fortunate to have Lorraine and Britta collaborating on such a timely subject and working closely together to positively impact our students.”

To learn more about Pacific Quest and our integrative, whole person approach, please visit the following links:

February 5, 2016

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Examining the First Pillar of Health: Nutrition

D2014_10_26_T07_21_26-7-X3At Pacific Quest, students learn that what you put in your body directly affects how you feel. The Pacific Quest diet has been developed to provide balanced and vital nutrition. We take advantage of locally grown foods in Hawaii so that food is always fresh and healthy. We are fortunate to have an incredible local source of beef on the Big Island from the Galimba family at Kuahiwi Ranch.  The students also enjoy fresh fish and a variety of fruits and vegetables that are grown in our organic gardens at PQ or other nearby farms.

We teach the basics of nutrition and how the body uses food as fuel. Purified water and herbal teas are the only liquids provided and students are taught how high sugar diets contribute to fluctuating blood sugar levels, which can cause mood changes and energy crashes. Students learn how to cook and prepare food using the freshest and most natural ingredients.

At Pacific Quest, we believe food is medicine and fuel for the body. We provide whole foods, hypoallergenic, anti-inflammatory, and blood sugar balancing diet, rich in critical nutrients for optimizing health.  The Pacific Quest diet consists of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, local protein sources, healthy fats, limited amounts of dairy and no refined sugars or processed foods.

Eating nutritious food, free of refined sugar, artificial chemicals and harmful substances helps our adolescents and young adults feel better and have adequate energy for optimal engagement in the therapeutic process.IMG_0001 (2)

We emphasize the importance of eating in a relaxed setting to optimize digestion. The students are encouraged to chew their food well and take their time to eat. The basics of nutrition are discussed as well as the building blocks of a healthy diet. Pacific Quest cultivates the students’ appreciation of the evolution of their food from the soil to their plates while they harvest and cook many of their own meals.

Pacific Quest’s list of typical foods:

Protein: fish, eggs, yogurt, lentils, tofu, beans, chicken, beef, nuts, seeds, and hummus.

Starches: pita, oats, gluten-free pasta, taro, potato, rice, quinoa, corn tortillas and sweet potato.

Vegetables: tomato, zucchini, carrot, broccoli, eggplant, celery, cauliflower, squash, beets, onion, green beans, kale, spinach, corn, peppers, radish,

Fruits: apple, papaya, banana, passion fruit, guava, pineapple, watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, orange, and avocado.

Herbs: dill, garlic, lemon, lemongrass, lime, thyme, rosemary, basil, ginger, cilantro, parsley, fennel, nasturtium, turmeric, green onion, and mint.

Nuts: cashews, almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts and soy nuts.

Seeds: pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.

Condiments: parmesan cheese, soy sauce, braggs amino acids, coconut oil, olive oil, salt, pepper, vinegar, honey, peanut butter, yogurt.

Whey protein powder: weight maintenance supplement.

Snack: consist of granola, raisins, soy nuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and cashews.

Water: The students drink 96 ounces of water daily. We encourage them not to drink a lot of water while they eat as it will inhibit digestion.