Friday, November 28, 2014

Health Benefits of Raw Honey

Honey is one of nature’s premier superfoods. Not only does honey taste good in tea, yogurt, baked goods etc. but it has been a staple anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory since ancient times. Even modern practitioners swear by its miraculous healing properties.

Top 5 Health Benefits of Raw Organic Honey 

1. Honey Kills Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria 

In the world of medicine, few things can be scarier than bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, but that’s exactly the problem that modern medicine faces. Over the past fifty years, over-use of anti-bacterial drugs, like Azithromycin, have encouraged harmful bacteria to evolve and become stronger. But there’s no bacterium anywhere that’s resistant to honey! That’s right, honey can kill even antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Ancient people applied it to wounds, infections, and abscesses to great effect. Just make sure you use raw organic honey, which doesn’t include high-fructose corn syrup or white sugar that lower its quality and beneficial effects.

2. Soothes Coughs 

In addition to killing bacteria, honey can reduce the severity of coughs and sore throats more safely than over-the-counter medications. This is another example of a traditional remedy that turns out to be more effective than mass-produced drugs by pharmaceutical companies. While adult cough medicines might be dangerous for children to take, raw honey helps lessen the frequency and intensity of a child’s cough, letting parents and kids alike get more sleep during cold season.

3. Boosts Wound and Burn Healing 

Believe it or not, honey sterilizes and heals burns in half the time than its over-the-counter antibiotic competitor silver sulfadiazine. It can disinfect wounds the same way, allowing your body to regenerate faster and with less risk of infection or scarring. If you receive an injury, smear honey on the affected area immediately. Don’t worry about using too much, because with honey, there’s no such thing. When you’re done, apply a bandage over your wound. Repeat this procedure at least once every 48 hours to make sure that you’re not getting an infection (though odds are good that you won’t.)

4. Provides Many Nutrients

Unsurprisingly, honey offers a staggering amount of nutritional value. (Remember, this is the stuff that bees build their entire colonies upon!) Aside from various nutrients, like riboflavin, folate, betaine, manganese, potassium, copper, zinc, calcium, magnesium, selenium, fluoride and phosphorus, honey is loaded with antioxidants, which can lessen the risk of cancer. It also lowers LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and generally reduces inflammation. Of course, if you have a sweet tooth, one benefit trumps all the others on this list…

5. Raw Organic Honey is the Perfect Sugar Substitute 

As if the health benefits of honey weren’t enough on their own. Honey can play another important part in your well-being by sweetening your tea, cookies, pancakes and other baked goods you prepare. Though honey itself is made of fructose, it raises blood sugar far lesser than similar-tasting substances, like sucrose and dextrose. Honey has a healthy Glycemic Index, which means its sugars can be gradually absorbed into the blood stream to result in better digestion. Best of all, you can keep honey on the shelf forever, because it never spoils. Not to put too fine a point on it, but that’s pretty sweet.

Raw Honey Has Many Health Benefits 

There’s a lot that honey can do to improve your active life and diet. It’s a great pre-exercise food, for example, because it’ll give you the power you need and you won’t crash in the middle of your training session. The healing powers of honey don’t just apply to skin wounds – they can help heal painful stomach ulcers, too! Fans of probiotics love honey because it hosts good bacteria, including lactobacilli, which help us digest food. There’s even evidence that honey consumption boosts memory in menopausal women and increase the body’s ability to recover from drunkenness. Old time medical practitioners knew the secrets of honey before science discovered them. Today, there are many good reasons to add this incredible food to your diet!

Monday, November 24, 2014

10 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday for many. It's a time to eat, indulge and spend uninterrupted time with family. It's also a time for reflection. A time to think about what we're thankful for and a time to think about how the choices we make impact our families and the planet.

Although every day provides an opportunity for reflection and change, Thanksgiving stands out as the perfect day to kick off a few new habits that will effect the longevity of our planet. If each of us revamped our consumption and waste habits by slightly adjusting what's already in place, the overall impact could be huge.

Here are a few tips for the Thanksgiving holiday that will reduce our carbon footprint and help keep the planet healthy for generations to come.

1. Shop Local

Shop locally this Thanksgiving and lend your support to the little local business rather than the big box stores. Go for holiday supplies that don't need to travel far to get to your Thanksgiving table.

2. Buy Organic

Organic food typically requires 30-50 percent less energy during production than its conventional counterpart. Make the shift this Thanksgiving to a table with more organic food choices. Knowing that your food isn't sprayed with pesticides, chemicals or GMOs is enough reason to incorporate organic foods into your menu.

3. Turn the Heat Down

Watch your home heat up on its own as your Thanksgiving guests arrive and as the oven is turned on to warm the food. Rather than opening windows to cool off the space, remember to set the thermostat a few degrees lower before the celebration begins.

4. Don't Use Disposables

Make the switch to reusable napkins, skip the paper towels and pull out the good dishes this Thanksgiving. It's a bit more effort at the end of the evening, but it's worth it. Each person in the United States uses 749 pounds (340kg) of paper every year. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the pulp and paper industry may contribute to more global and local environmental problems than any other industry in the world. The industry is the third largest industrial emitter of global warming pollution.

5. Reduce the Amount You Buy

Reducing is the first of the 3 Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle. When planning your Thanksgiving celebration, try making some slight alterations to your shopping list. Give some extra thought as to whether or not you truly need those items on your list and reduce the amount of food and decorations if possible.

6. Compost Table Scraps

Did you know that a typical household throws away an estimated 474 pounds of food waste each year? That means about 1.5 lbs. per person a day in the United States. Food scraps generated by all households in the U.S. could be piled on a football field more than five miles (26,400 feet) high. Compost those vegetable scraps and watch your garden thrive.

7. Fill Your Dishwasher Before Running

Fill your dishwasher to capacity before running a cycle. You'll end up saving water, energy and detergent.

8. Green Your Turkey

A Cornell study shows it takes 14 units of fossil fuel to produce a serving of turkey. If you're planning to have turkey, try to make it a little greener by purchasing it from a local market or farm. If the turkey is traveling a long distance to get to your table, that's adding to your carbon footprint. Best option -- skip the turkey!

9. Clean with Non-Toxic Cleaners

Make the switch to non-toxic cleaning products. When making the switch to green cleaning products, replace products you're currently using as they run out with a safer version. Take the time to research safer, non-toxic products and then make the switch.

10. Stay Local

According to USA Today, it's predicted that 24.6 million passengers will fly on U.S. airlines domestically and internationally between November 21 and December 2 this year. That's a 1.5 percent increase from last year, or 31,000 more passengers on average a day. For many of us, traveling is a long-standing tradition and needed to visit with our family. Use this handy calculator from The Nature Conservancy to help you calculate the amount of carbon you emit and offer ways of offsetting those emissions.

If your plan is to drive, make sure your tires are fully inflated and your car has been properly serviced. This will help reduce your carbon emissions and improve your gas mileage.

10 Reasons To Eat Sprouts Daily & How To Grow Your Own

Sprouts are an amazing little nutrient dense, powerhouse superfood. Sprouts are shoots from a plant seed. They come in many different varieties and lucky for us a whole bunch of these are edible! Green, red leaf, alfalfa, radish, broccoli, and clover are a few different varieties of sprouts, but did you know that you can also sprout chickpeas, quinoa, lentils and even almonds?

There are many reasons why sprouting is a good idea: it is extremely economical, you can ensure that you are getting extremely fresh, organic, local food into your diet daily and you can do it from home all winter long. I don’t think there is one good reason not to sprout. Here are the top 10 reasons to eat sprouts daily.

1. Enzymes

It has been estimated that there can be up to 100 times more enzymes in sprouts than in uncooked fruits and vegetables. Enzymes are types of proteins that act as catalysts for all of your bodily functions. Enzymes extract more vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids from the foods that you eat and ensures your body has the nutritional building blocks to ensure every process works as effectively as possible.

 2. More Fiber

Fiber is an extremely important factor in any diet, did you know it actually binds to fats and toxins within our bodies and helps us eliminate them? It also ensures that any fat our bodies break down is moved through the body before it has a chance to reabsorb through the walls of the intestines.

3. Higher Vitamin Content

The vitamin content from certain seeds, grains, beans and nuts actually increases by up to 20 times the original value after only a few days of sprouting. Mung beansprouts, for example, increase in vitamin B1 by up to 285 percent, vitamin B2 by up to 515 percent and niacin by up to 256 percent.

4. Your Body Can Easily Utilize Sprouts

During the sprouting process, minerals bind to the proteins in the seeds, nuts or grains making them more useable in the body. This is true especially for more alkalizing minerals such as calcium and magnesium, they help us balance our body chemistry for potential weight loss and better health.

5. Sprouts Have The Highest Concentration Of Phytonutrients Of Any Food

That is a pretty bold statement, but according to this study from the Journal of Applied Science it is true. Phytonutrients play an active role in the amendment of disease.

6. Research Shows Sprouts May Prevent Cancer

There have been numerous studies done to show that the consumption of sprouts can actually prevent various forms of cancer. One study in particular that was led by scientists from John Hopkins, found that a highly concentrated source of sulforaphane, a compound they identified in 1992 that helps mobilize the body’s natural cancer-fighting resources and reduces the risk of developing cancer. Broccoli sprouts, contain unusually high levels of glucoraphanin, the naturally-occurring precursor of sulforaphane.

7. Sprouts Can Help Alkalize Your Body

Sprouts themselves are quite alkaline, eating them can directly help maintain the acid alkaline balance within the body, which ultimately leads to good health overall. Nobel Prize winner Otto Heinrich Warburgh stated:
“Cancer cannot exist in an alkaline oxygen rich environment.”

8. Energizing

The energy contained in the little seed, nut, bean, or grain is ignited through the soaking and sprouting process.

9. Extremely Economical

Sprouting is extremely cheap! Sure you can buy little plastic containers at the store for around $2-$4 for conventional and $3-$5 for organic. Or you could save your money, save the environment, save the trip to the store and sprout your own for just pennies a batch!

10. Sprouts Are Extremely Easy To Grow Yourself Anytime Of The Year

Sprouts are grown indoors, most varieties need only water, and many don’t even need sunlight. All you need is a jar, a piece of mesh or old pantyhose, water and sprout seeds!

Bonus: Sprouts are extremely tasty! I like to eat them sprinkled in salads, on sandwiches, and on flatbread type crackers with Vegenaise and tomato slices. Mmm mm good!

How To Sprout Your Own Sprouts

What You Need:
  • A thoroughly cleaned mason jar
  • A piece of fine mesh or a piece from an old pair of pantyhose big enough to cover the top of the jar (cheesecloth doesn’t work very well for this because sometimes the seeds get caught in the material.)
  • Sprouting seeds
  • Water
  1. Put between 2 and 4 Tablespoons of any kind of sprout seeds you choose. I really like Mumm’s brand seeds. They are organic and they also have a variety of many yummy sprout combinations. My favorite is the “sandwich booster” blend. Sometimes I add a little “crunchy bean mix” and sprout these together. Its very simple.
  2. Cover the seeds with filtered water, let seeds soak for 8 hours or over night.
  3. Cover the top of the jar with the mesh or pantyhose and secure with either the ring only for the top of the jar or a tightly wrapped elastic band.  Drain the water.
  4. Pour some more water over the seeds, then swirl the jar around to rinse them, then discard the water.
  5. Put the jar in a bowl or container so that it can sit downwards at about a 45-degree angle, so the water can drain out.
  6. Place the jar in a dark area, or in a cupboard. Rinse the sprouts and replace them in the downward position twice daily.
  7. Your sprouts should be ready in about 3-5 days, enjoy!
You can also buy nifty little sprouting devices in the form of jars or trays, but this isn’t really necessary. The method above has worked very well for me over the years. Happy sprouting!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

8 High Protein Foods to Add to Your Daily Diet

Protein plays an important role in a well balanced diet, it is essential for the body. The key parts in our bodies would not hold together properly without it. Protein is also essential for metabolism, immune system function and regulatory hormones.

Here is a list of 8 High Protein Foods to add to your daily diet:

1. Hemp Hearts

Hemp seeds are a high, whole food protein source containing all nine essential amino acids.  They also include essential fats, Gamma Linoleic Acid (GLA), fiber, iron, zinc, carotene, B-Vitamins (1, 2, and 6), Vitamin D, Vitamin E, calcium, copper, potassium, chlorophyll, enzymes and more. Hemp seeds taste incredible! They have a creamy texture and a rich, earthy flavor.  Hemp seeds can be blended into shakes, nut milks, nut butters, smoothies, and ice cream for a creamy taste and consistency.  They can be sprinkled on top of food such as yogurt, salads, granola, etc. Hemp seeds can also be used in baking, sauces and spreads!

2. Pumpkin Seeds

Raw pumpkin seeds are truly a superfood! Among the many benefits, they are high in protein, zinc, iron, magnesium and omega-3s. By sourcing living seeds, we preserve their inherent nutrients and enzymes, providing your body with healthy fuel!

3. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are exceptionally nutritious. They have high amounts of protein, fiber and many other essential minerals. They are also high in Omega-3, antioxidants, B-Vitamins, calcium, and boron. Chia seeds are a great food for runners.  Because they absorb ten times their weight in water as they expand, the water will then be released slowly and evenly into your system. This allows for maximum hydration, which is key when running long distances, during marathons or especially in high heat, where runners lose more and more fluids through their sweat.

4. Bee Pollen

Bee pollen is very good source of protein, 20-40%. It can rapidly pass directly into blood from stomach in about 2 hours after ingesting. Bee Pollen has been considered to be one of the most nutrient packed foods in the world, often called “nature’s perfect food”.  It is an alkaline food, loaded with minerals, antioxidants, micro-nutrients, trace elements and enzymes.  Consuming bee pollen is an incredible way to balance an over acidic system.  Bee pollen contains 18-22 amino acids including tryptophan, lysine and methionine.  Amino acids nourish the brain, protect the body against disease, and play a critical role in metabolizing nutrients. Bee pollen also has an expansive array of Vitamin B complexes, Vitamins A, C, and E.

5. Mesquite Powder

Mesquite powder is high in protein, low on the glycemic index, and rich in vitamins and minerals such as: iron, zinc, calcium, lysine, potassium, magnesium and dietary fiber. It digests slowly and does not cause spikes in blood sugar, making it a great choice for diabetics.

6. Spirulina

Spirulina contains over 60% complete protein (almost three times as much as that found in beef!), it has high concentrations of many other important vitamins and minerals, such as B complex vitamins, vitamin E, carotenoids, iodine, iron, manganese, zinc, essential fatty acids such as gamma linolenic acid (which is only otherwise found in mother’s milk), and more beta carotene than you can find in carrots! Spirulina is also one of the few plant sources of vitamin B12, which is essential for healthy nerves and tissues.

7. Cashew Nuts

Cashews are an incredible superfood providing the body with essential vitamins and minerals! Cashews are a great source of plant-based protein, iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, and trace minerals. Cashews have a mild, creamy flavor and smooth texture. They can be enjoyed plain as a healthy snack, or used to make nut milk or cream, dairy-free sauces & dips, and are a wonderful addition to smoothies, salads, stir fries, and trail mixes.

8. Goji Berries

Goji berries are  packed full of natural protein, trace minerals, essential fatty-acids, amino acids, antioxidants, and over 20 different vitamins and minerals. For thousands of years, traditional Chinese Medicine has used this revered fruit to enhance the immune system and treat more than 100 different ailments. The delightful, ruby colored Goji Berries are an excellent, healthy, high energy snack. These dried goodies give a vibrant burst of nutrients and flavor to any meal or snack. You can add them to smoothies, tea, cereals, salads or desserts.

Phthalates in Food: 7 Ways to Reduce Your Exposure

You probably know that some plastic toys—like the now infamous rubber ducky—contain the hormone-disrupting, birth-defect-causing, probably-carcinogenic plasticizers known as phthalates. You may have even heard that this group of chemicals is also found in the fragrance of your favorite personal care products.

Most of my clients are surprised to learn, though, that the single largest source of phthalate exposure comes from our food and water supply—and this is not just true for people eating microwaved meals from plastic trays. Almost all of us have phthalates in our systems, and a recent study showed that when fasting, people’s phthalate levels dropped by five to ten times within the first 24 hours without food. This is not to say we should stop eating–but we should get phthalates out of what we eat!

Until phthalates are banned for good, we can take matters into our own hands in several ways.  Here’s how:
  1. Avoid putting your food in or on plastic. Even BPA- or phthalate-free plastic may leach harmful chemicals, and it’s impossible to know for sure which containers, wraps, or baggies may contain phthalates without testing. Opt for glass food storage containers, and choose bottles and sippy cups that are made of stainless steel, silicone, or glass. Try zippered cloth bags instead of plastic food storage bags, and try to source meats and cheeses that come wrapped in paper whenever possible.
  2. If you must use plastic, keep it out of the microwave and dishwasher. When plastic is heated, it leaches more chemicals, and phthalates are no exception. Even the hot water of the dishwasher causes plastic to degrade and release toxins, so if you do use plastic food-storage containers, replace them often.
  3. Eat more plants. People who eat diets rich in plant foods—fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds—have lower levels of phthalates in their blood than do people who eat more animal foods. Substituting out just a few meat- and dairy-heavy meals a week with vegan ones can lower your family’s phthalate levels. If you’re worried about protein, try beans. For fats, add nuts or avocado. For calcium, choose kale or collard greens.
  4. Eat organic and grass-fed produce, meat, and dairy. Phthalates are used in pesticides and herbicides, neither of which is permitted on certified organic produce. Pesticide-treated animal feeds are not allowed in organic meat and dairy production. Ideally, you’ll eat dairy and meat from grass-fed cows, pigs, and chickens, since phthalates may contaminate animal feed stored in plastic containers (even if that feed is organic).
  5. Choose low-fat meat and dairy. I don’t love giving this advice, because I generally am not a fan of low-fat dairy products, always opting for whole milk and full-fat yogurt for my family. Unfortunately, foods that are higher in fat are particularly prone to chemical leaching. Most farms use plastic tubing to milk their cows, which likely introduces phthalates at the start of the production process, and the chemicals then hang out in the fattiest part of the milk. In light of this, you might want to consider buying lower fat cheeses or taking the skin off of chicken.
  6. Invest in a water filter. If your water supply is tainted by industrial waste, phthalates may show up in your drinking glass. Granular activated carbon filters should remove DEHP, which is the type of phthalate used in water pipes. A nano-filtration system is more expensive but possibly even more effective way to filter out phthalates.
  7. Avoid processed foods. Phthalate contamination is yet another reason to stick to whole foods as much as possible. The more opportunity your food has had to come in contact with plastic throughout the production process, the greater the chance that it will be tainted with phthalates.

Monday, November 17, 2014

22 Delicious Meatless Main Dishes To Make For Thanksgiving

1. Stuffed Butternut Squash

With a simple and nourishing ingredient list, this dish manages to be packed with flavor (one of the many benefits of eating in-season). It also happens to be a very pretty dish that would make a deliciously satisfying addition to your Thanksgiving table. Recipe here.

2. Mediterranean Baked Sweet Potatoes

The concept is simple:

Baked sweet potatoes – cut in half to shorten cooking time
Seasoned, roasted chickpeas
Garlic-herb sauce
Parsley-tomato salad for garnish

The result is a 30-minute lunch or dinner that’s both satisfying, savory and sweet, and seriously healthy. Grab the recipe here and if you already have sweet potatoes on the menu? Make something similar with eggplant.

3. Grilled Chipotle Lime Cauliflower Steaks

These cauliflower "steaks" demonstrate that more than almost anything else we've grilled; their tongue-in-cheek name is a good indicator of how satisfying a centerpiece they make on any table. They're smoky and spicy, with a squirt of lime and flurry of cilantro. Get the spicy recipe here.

4. Potato and Green Garlic Crustless Quiche with Goat Cheese, Gruyère, and Chives

The quiche recipe is quite simple: cook up some vegetables, whip up a batter of eggs, milk, and flour, combine the two and add some cheese, bake, and voilà. Brunch. (Or lunch. Or dinner. Or all of the above.) Try the recipe yourself here.

5. Roasted Vegetable Galette

This savory galette is a wonderful lunch or snack for those who still wait for warm days. It's full of flavors and vitamins that we so much need during a long cold winter. Find the recipe here.

6. Roasted Fall Vegetable and Ricotta Pizza

Such an inventive way to get nutrients without feeling deprived! Also a great day-after-Thanksgiving treat. Snag the delicious, easy recipe here.

7. Acorn Squash with Walnuts & Cranberry

What says “fall” better than pumpkins and squash? They come in such a huge variety of colors, shapes and flavors these days! The addition of walnuts gives you an added boost of healthy oils, which are good for your cardiac health and help you lower cholesterol. Seriously, do you need more convincing? Try the recipe out here.

8. Roasted Cauliflower, Mushroom and Goat Cheese Quiche with Quinoa Crust

The cauliflower and mushroom combo works amazingly well in this quiche and now you can enjoy the favorite combo for breakfast lunch and dinner! Enjoy the recipe here.

9. Chili Polenta Pie

Do you need a "pot pie challenge"? Cause this is the recipe for you.

10. Vegan Mushroom, Chestnut & Cranberry Tart

This tart is perfect for holidays – make it the day before and heat through once dinner’s nearly ready. If you can’t get wild mushrooms, use more chestnut ones. Try it out this year!

11. Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Crispy Baked Tofu with Honey-Sesame Glaze

Tender, caramelized brussels sprouts with extra crispy tofu and brown rice, topped with an irresistible sweet-and-spicy glaze. This meal requires some prep work, but once you're ready, you can cook the rice, sprouts and tofu in about 30 minutes, while making the glaze in the meantime. For a simple side dish, roast 2+ pounds of sprouts and skip the rice and tofu. Find the recipe here.

12. “Ricotta” Stuffed Cabbage

This is the gluten free solution stuffed shells. You’ll notice this recipe also pasta-free but trust me – this “cheesy” cashew filling – tastes just as indulgent.

13. Roasted Eggplant with Cilantro-Almond Salsa

Serve this amazing eggplant with couscous, topped with a dollop of yogurt and a spoonful of salsa. Yummmmm! Try this recipe here.

14. Vegan Lentil & Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

Forget the traditional style shepherd's pie and instead opt for this recipe on stuffed with deliciously seasoned lentils and veggies, and topped with a gorgeous, vitamin-packed sweet potato mash. It’s every bit as delicious as the original, but low in fat and high in protein, fiber, and nutrients. This shepherd’s pie is the perfect simple, economical, hearty dinner that the whole family will love.

15. Butternut Squash Alfredo Baked Shells

This Butternut Squash Alfredo Stuffed Shells recipe is made with a lighter alfredo sauce, and is perfectly sweet, savory, and delicious!

16. Autumn Root Vegetable Gratin with Herbs and Cheese

This classic dish, other than its near universal appeal, is that it is deceptively simple to make relative to its beauty. Plus, you can probably make it with what you have in your fridge and pantry right now. Try it out now!

17. Mushroom, Spinach and Scallion Tart

This vibrant recipe includes spinach leaves intermingle with roasted mushrooms in a light-as-air (and easy-to-assemble) phyllo shell. The custard-like filling comes together quickly in a blender.

18. Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Crispy Goat Cheese

The portobellos are lightly grilled and topped with a chunky homemade tomato sauce, sautéed spinach and shallot mixture, soft goat cheese, and topped with a crispy breadcrumb topping. They're hearty enough to be served on their own, with a simple salad or grain (such as quinoa or pasta!), or as a side dish. Try serving this recipe at the table.

19. Vegetarian Wellington with Seitan, Roasted Mushroom & Kale

Make this vegetarian wellington recipe for Thanksgiving and the turkeys of America will love you! And so will your guests. This welling is a puff pastry wrapping, stuffed with orange and fennel seed braised seitan, thyme roasted mushrooms and kale. All served with the best vegetarian gravy ever! 

20. Butternut Squash-Kale Tart

Embrace the flavor of a sweet butternut squash with open arms and into a delicious tart mixed with kale and grated Gruyere. Try this recipe out this Thanksgiving.

21. Provolone and Mushroom Gratin

Cheesy potatoes get a whole new look with the addition of Provolone cheese, Portobello mushrooms and fresh thyme. Find the recipe here.

22. Roasted Sweet Potato & Black Lentil Salad

This roasted sweet potato and black lentil salad recipe is something easy to nosh throughout a meal or even while cooking! It's great served at room temperature and it’s vegan, simple and with the addition of scallions for sharpness and celery for crunch it makes a dish everyone will love.
[via BuzzFeed]

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Healing Herbs for the Respiratory System

Fall is here and winter waiting on our door steps, the garden is dying back, the plants have shed their last seeds and are being tucked in for their winter beauty sleep. As our own energy starts to move inward as well and our bodies are getting ready for the colder season, it is the perfect time to strengthen and support the respiratory system.

In this part of Mother Earth News “Plant a Medicinal Herb Garden” series we will look at easy to grow herbs that will support and heal the the lungs, throat and sinuses, while adding flavor to your kitchen and beautifying your garden.

Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)

Hyssop is a sun loving, perennial, low growing shrub with beautiful dark blue blossoms that attract many bees and pollinators. Hummingbirds love it too. Hyssop is drought resistant and does well in poor and sandy soil. It is an herb in the mint family and has a delicious aromatic and minty scent. Hyssop's warming energetics make it a fine remedy for a stubborn cough and shivers. The responsible medicinal constituents are soothing to the lungs and help to loosen and expel mucus when taken internally (see recipes below). In addition, hyssop is a good carminative, meaning it supports healthy digestion and prevents formation of gas.

How to Make a Tincture

Here is the link again to Rosemary Gladstar's video on How to Make a Tincture in case you have never made one before. It is an easy process to make your own green medicine from freshly picked herbs from your garden. You will pay a fraction of the cost compared to a store bought tincture and your medicine will be just as effective if not more potent with the help of your intentions and the love you gave to the plant in your garden. When you grow your own medicine, you ultimately give that attention and love to yourself.

How to Make an Oxymel

An oxymel is another very good tasting way to extract the medicinal constituents from hyssop. Instead of using alcohol as a solvent, organic apple cider vinegar and raw honey are combined. You can take a teaspoon straight up as needed during a cough or cold or add it to salad dressings as a delicious culinary treat with many health benefits.

To harvest hyssop, cut the flowering tops in early summer when the flowers are just about to open. At this time, the plant holds the highest concentrations of medicinal essential oils. The plant will grow new flowers and you can harvest a second time later in the year.

Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)

Just like hyssop, anise hyssop is also a hardy perennial herb in the mint family. It grows up to 4 feet tall with heart-shaped leaves that have a pretty purple rim. The stalks of light purple flowers are a favorite of bees and bumblebees. It is self-seeding and will happily spread around your garden. Leaves and flowers have a subtle licorice aroma, hence its other name – licorice mint.

How to Use Anise Hyssop

Anise hyssop makes an aromatic tea from the fresh or dried leaves and flowers that eases digestion. The fresh leaves are also a lovely addition to salads. Native Americans used anise hyssop medicinally for coughs and fevers, and so do I.

A tea or tincture blend of anise hyssop and hyssop combined soothes and helps to heal irritated lung tissue during a respiratory infection. We made an oxymel from hyssop and anise hyssop combined and it is my favorite in salad dressings.

Anise hyssop can be harvested several times per year. Harvest the flowering tops when the plant is starting to bloom. Cutting back the flowers before they can mature into seeds invigorates the plant to grow new flowers – which can be cut again a few weeks later. That way you can enjoy fresh anise hyssop tea all summer long. Place a good hand full of fresh leaves and flowers in a teapot or large ball jar. Poor boiling water over the herb and close the lid to make sure the precious essential oils do not escape. Let steep for 5-10 minutes, strain, sweeten with a touch of honey to taste - and enjoy!

How to Dry Herbs

To dry medicinal or culinary herbs, harvest the flowering tops, bind three or four stalks tightly together with a rubber band and hang upside down to dry in a well ventilated room that is protected from night moisture. After a few days or a week, roll a leave between your fingers next to your ear. When the plant is fully dried, it will “crackle and pop”. If the leaves are still floppy, dry them a little longer. Pull the leaves from the stems (this process is called garbling the herb) and store in a ziplock mylar bag or tightly closed ball jar in a cool place out of direct sunlight.

Mullein (Verbascum thapus)

Mullein is a tall standing bi-annual plant that forms a rosette of velvet soft, large leaves in the first year and a tall stalk covered with small yellow blossoms in the second year. The plant self-seeds before it dies and will spread around your garden so you never have to plant it again. In ancient times, mullein was considered a protector against evil spirits as it stands tall and straight like a guardian when in bloom.

Mullein Medicine

All parts of mullein can be used medicinally, but the leaves is what we are after for their soothing and coating effects on the mucus membranes, such as the lung tissue and sinuses. This medicinal action is called demulcent. Mullein and osha root tincture combine very well to treat stubborn sinus infections.

Mullein flowers can be used to make a healing ear oil for ear infections. It works especially well when combined with garlic oil.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Wild thyme is a sun loving perennial ground cover, temperate in all zones, that will compete with your lawn, and win (!), when you don't mow it during its self-seeding time. A soft bed of flowering thyme will spread through your lawn that will release its lovely scent with every step you take on it. It also makes a nice border in ornamental flower beds.

Thyme has strong anti-bacterial and anti-septic properties. Both the tincture and tea are useful during respiratory infections. A steam bath with dried or fresh thyme works wonders for congestion and sinus infections.

Thyme Steam Inhalation for Sinus Infections

Pour boiling water into a bowl and add a tablespoon of fresh or dried thyme leaves. Stir with a wooden spoon. Place your head about 12 inches above the bowl and cover your head and the bowl with a towel. Close your eyes and inhale the aromatic thyme steam through your nose for 2 to 5 minutes. It will clear up your sinuses and lungs and help to loosen phlegm and mucus, while delivering the anti-bacterial essential oils straight to the places where they are needed. If you feel the steam is too hot, raise the towel a little so cool air can come in.

Dabbing some thyme tincture on your gums several times a day is a great remedy for gum disease.

In addition, thyme tincture can be used as an all natural disinfectant in your home. Simply mix a tablespoon of tincture with some vinegar and water, spray on your counter tops and wipe off.

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Garden sage is a perennial shrubby herb that can grow up to 3 feet tall. The velvety leaves are not only a wonderful culinary herb but also have powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and the fresh purple and pink blossoms are delicious in a raw sage blossom pesto.

Medicinal Uses of Sage

Sage is an extremely versatile herb. A tea from sage, thyme, hyssop, anise hyssop and mullein is a great remedy for coughs and colds. Add raw honey for extra healing and anti-bacterial action.

Make a sage honey (yummy!) and take it by the teaspoon for the cold and flu and to soothe a sore throat.

To help heal a sore throat you can also make a strong sage tea, add a dash of salt and use as a gargle. This is also a good remedy for mouth sores.

For fungal skin infections, such as athlete's foot, mix a few drops of tea tree essential oil with sage tincture and rub it onto the affected area.

Garlic (Allium sativum)

Yes, garlic! Plant lots of garlic in the fall and mulch it well with straw. Garlic is one of the strongest anti-bacterial herbs around. It contains over 50 sulfur compounds that have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal action. These compounds are broken down in the lungs, which is the reason for garlic breath. It also means that the medicine is working right where you need it - in your lungs.

Garlic Medicine

Roast a whole garlic bulb in the oven and enjoy two to three garlic cloves spread on a piece of bread or a gluten free rice cracker.

You can also add fresh garlic cloves to a green smoothy or hearty vegetable juice.

Both recipes will work wonders on stubborn lung infections and candida yeast infections.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Detecting Nutritional Deficiencies

A healthy diet can provide all nutrients that a body needs, but the reality of our busy lifestyles and sometimes finicky eating patterns can lead to vitamin deficiency. Knowing what to look for is part of the battle. We want to help you in detecting these nutritional deficiencies!

  • Cold hands: Magnesium deficiency, hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue with low cardiac output.
  • Stretch marks: zinc deficiency
  • Spontaneous bleeds: vitamins C or K or platelet deficiency
  • Dry scaly skin: Vitamin C deficiency
  • Yellow palms: excessive beta carotene intake
  • Tender calf muscles: magnesium deficiency
  • Brisk knee reflexes: magnesium deficiency
  • Irregular beat, high blood pressure, cardiomegaly: magnesium and Co Q10 deficiencies or sensitivity to caffeine
  • Thyroid swelling: iodine deficiency, hypothyroidis
  • White spots: Mineral deficiency, but often low zinc
  • Ridges: Zinc deficiency
  • Soft or brittle nails: Magnesium deficiency
  • Bags or dark circles: allergies or food intolerances
  • Cataracts: chromium deficiency or excess free radicals
  • Pale fissured tongue: iron deficiency
  • Cracked lips: vitamin B2 deficiency
[via Positive Med]

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

10 Organic Thanksgiving Recipes

It’s the ultimate foodie day: Thanksgiving! But here’s something we’re not thankful for: Many traditional Thanksgiving staples, such as cranberries, green beans, sweet potatoes, and leafy greens, rank among the top foods at risk for toxic pesticide residue, according to The Organic Center's new Dietary Risk Index. Make this year’s Thanksgiving your healthiest yet with organic foods, free from pesticides, GMOs, hormones, and antibiotics.

“The only real way to protect your family from [the risk of toxic pesticide residue] is to purchase organic foods, particularly those fruits and vegetables that pose the greatest risk," says The Organic Center board member Sara Snow. “The Dietary Risk Index makes it easy by clearly listing which foods those are.”

Show your love by buying as many organic ingredients as you can and using them in these delectable recipes. “By preparing an organic Thanksgiving, you’ll be providing your family with nutritious food that’s both good for you and for the planet,” says Snow.

Roast Turkey with Sage

A gorgeous centerpiece entree (see full turkey on previous frame). Look for organic and heritage turkeys, which are raised without hormones, antibiotics, or additives. View recipe.

Herbed Bread and Vegetable Stuffing

This vegetable-studded stuffing adds flavor and nutrients to a typically bread-heavy dish. Use organic, sprouted bread for even more texture. View recipe.

Fresh Spinach-Artichoke Baked Dip

Enjoy this lightened version of the classic artichoke dip appetizer—and be sure to use organic spinach. View recipe.

Goat Cheese Tart with Marinated Beets and Arugula

Conventionally grown beets are often genetically modified (GMO); avoid this by buying organic beets for this lovely, light appetizer or starter course. View recipe.

Parsnip and Fennel Puree

It's not Thanksgiving without some version of mashed potatoes! This sophisticated version adds natural sweetness with organic parsnips and fennel. View recipe.

Kibbeh with Apples, Walnuts, and Feta

This vegetarian, Mediterranean-inspired entree will please everyone at the table; you can also make it one day ahead. To avoid rBGH, use organic yogurt for the delicious, dill-infused sauce. View recipe.

Cranberry-Pomegranate Relish

Easy and tangy, this refreshing cranberry relish features organic orange peel for a bright finish. View recipe.

Apple-Cranberry Lattice Pie

Organic apples, an early symbol of the organic movement, combine beautifully with lemon and cranberries in this seasonal dessert. View recipe.

Fig Pie

This novel, savory-sweet dessert features juicy, fresh figs; it's wonderful paired with fresh goat cheese. View recipe.

Cranberry Squash Pie

An Ayurvedic-inspired finale to your organic feast; the ingredients promote peacefulness because they're free of caffeine and strong spices. View recipe.