Friday, October 30, 2009

Better Sleep With Bach Flowers

If you suffer from insomnia, and it has nothing to do with the ghosts and ghouls running around this Halloween season, Bach Flower Remedies might just be the trick (or treat) for you. I know this is the second post this week with Bach Flower Remedies, but I'm reading a really great book and so inspired to use more of these great, natural remedies. I promise next week I will move on to other topics.

Insomnia usually stems from either organic toxicity issues or stress and worry. If you wake between the hours of 11 p.m. and 3 a.m., it's usually a toxicity issue and a good cleanse of the liver, gall bladder, lungs, intestines, or thyroid might be in order. If you wake between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. it's usually a sign of stress and worry. Note: these are generalizations and only you know will be able to figure out what is causing your lack of sleep.

If stress and worry are contributing to your lack of sleep, and let's be honest in these times who doesn't have plenty of stress and worry, here is a great list of Bach Flower Remedies to help you get some sleep.

  • Agrimony: due to problems kept secret
  • Elm: due to mulling over worries
  • Holly: due to anger and rage
  • Hornbeam: due to a general feeling of stress and overwork
  • Impatiens: due to a general restlessness and nervousness
  • Mimulus: due to fear
  • Mustard: caused by depression
  • Olive: caused by a weakness of the heart
  • Pine: caused by a guilt complex
  • Red Chestnut: caused by worrying about others
  • White Chestnut: caused by mental over stimulation
  • Willow: caused by bitterness and resentment
For those who may be unfamiliar, Bach Flower Remedies are tinctures made from the essence of 38 different flowers. They are safe, natural remedies. You can mix up to six of them for the most beneficial results. Look for these in your local natural health store.

Happy Halloween to all of you! Have a very fun and safe weekend!


Source: Advanced Bach Flower Therapy: A Scientific Approach to Diagnosis and Treatment; Gotz Blome, M.D.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween Treats

With Halloween right around the corner and treats abound, I thought I would pass along a few fun recipes that aren't quite so unhealthy...

Pretzel Spiders

2 round crackers
2 teaspoons smooth peanut butter or cream cheese
8 small pretzel sticks
2 raisins

Make a sandwich of the crackers filled with peanut butter. Insert eight pretzel "legs" into the filling. With a dab of peanut butter, stick two raisin eyes on top. Makes 1 serving.

Rotten Apple Punch

Apple cider (adjust the amount for the number of people you plan to serve; we suggest at least 1 gallon)
Five 1/2-cup containers (we used Pyrex glass dishes; other small containers or cups will also work)
Red and green food coloring
10 to 15 gummy worms
Punch bowl

Pour apple cider into all 5 small dishes, stopping about 1/2 inch from the top. Add 2 drops of red and 1 drop of green food coloring to each dish and stir until the colors have blended.

Hang 2 or 3 gummy worms around the edge of each dish and place the dishes in the freezer. If you use more than 3 worms, the rotten apples won't float as well. Freeze until the rotten apples are solid.

Just before serving, slip the frozen wormy apples out of the dishes by setting them briefly in a few inches of warm water in your sink.

Float the rotten apples in a large punch bowl filled with untinted cider. For added creepiness, drape the gummy worms over the edges of your serving bowl.

Tip: Do steps 1 and 2 the day before serving the punch

If you are anything like me you sort of dread all of the treats and candy around Halloween, but try to remember this Healthy Eating Tip: There are no "bad" foods, only poor diets. A little extra candy and cookies on Halloween aren't "bad." You simply don't want to allow your children to eat too much of those foods, too often!

Happy Halloween!!
- Shannan

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Using Bach Flowers for Seasonal Depression

We all unfortunately fall victim to depression at various times in our lives. Some have more severe cases than others and some go on for years, but the fact remains that we all suffer from this malady. Depression stems from many root causes: disappointment, being overwhelmed, fear, exhaustion, guilt, worry, poor nutrition, and etc. I'm currently reading a very good book on Bach Flower therapy and I learned some very interesting things about depression.

  • Depression results when important life-affirming impulses or needs that are crucial to our happiness are suppressed.

  • When we know and understand the reasons for our depression, we call it reactive depression (meaning a reaction to unhappy circumstances). Reactive depression is often overcome by treating the condition or circumstances that created the depressed state.

  • When the cause of our depression seems inexplicable, we call it endogenous depression (stemming from the mind or psyche). Endogenous depression is much more difficult to overcome and sometimes requires a complete rehabilitation of our world view and assumptions.

Bach Flower remedies can provide some relief for depression and can be a great natural remedy in times of need. Here are some of the basic essences to treat mild depression.

  • Mustard: This remedy is a basic remedy for all types of depression.

  • Aspen: Depression caused by fear

  • Cerato: Depression caused by helplessness or perceived helplessness.

  • Gentian: Depression caused by failure or humiliation. It can help restore optimism.

  • Hornbeam: Depression due to a fear of failure or feeling that we are not up to the challenges of everyday life.

  • Olive: Depression due to weakness or exhaustion.

  • Pine: Depression due to guilt.

  • Red Chestnut: Depression due to excessive worry.

  • Star of Bethlehem: Depression due to an unresolved shock or unbearable problem.

  • Wild Oat: Depression due to a lack of purpose in life.

Mustard is the basic essence for depression. Otherwise choose the essences that sound close to what you are experiencing and up to 6 of the remedies can be mixed together at a time for maximum effectiveness.

If you are currently being treated for depression, I do not recommend stopping treatment in lieu of these remedies. These can be added to any current therapy you are on or tried as a starting point. Never stop anti-depressants cold turkey. There can be severe side effects to the abrupt discontinuation of some anti-depressant medications.

For more information on Bach Flower Remedies, check out these posts


Source: Advanced Bach Flower Therapy: A Scientific Approach to Diagnosis and Treatment: Gotz Blome, M.D.

Monday, October 26, 2009


I have found myself lately eating a handful of almonds as a snack, almond butter (similar to peanut butter) and using almond milk in my smoothies and other recipes. I know almonds are good for me, but specifically what do they have to offer?

Almonds are a great source of vitamin E, with 25g providing 70 percent of the recommended daily allowance. They also have good amounts of magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, fiber and are a good source of healthy monounsaturated fat. They contain more calcium than any other nut which makes them great for vegetarians who do not eat any dairy products.

Almonds contain several phytochemicals including beta-sisterol stigmasterol and campesterol which is thought to contribute to a healthy heart. A handful of almonds a day helps reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering LDL, or ‘bad’ blood cholesterol by as much as ten percent.

Their high monounsaturated fat content, a key fat found in many Mediterranean diets, gives them much greater benefits than simply being cholesterol-lowering. Nearly every research study shows those who eat a traditional Mediterranean diet not only have a lower risk of heart disease and cancer, they also live longer.

Weight Loss Aid
For many years almonds were considered ‘fattening’. However, studies, including the Nurses’ Health Study and the Physicians’ Follow-up Study showed those who ate the most nuts tended to have lower body mass indexes. Although almonds are high in fat and calories, eating them in moderation can actually help with weight loss.

One study comparing two groups of dieters eating the same amount of calories found the group eating 500 of their calories from almonds lost more weight. One theory is that almond cell walls may limit the amount of dietary fat available for digestion, or for absorption. Therefore, it is a possibility that a small portion of the calories from almonds may not be completely absorbed by the body. Either way, replacing a given amount of calories in the diet with almonds will not equal the same in weight gain.

High Protein Source
As almonds are high in protein, around 18 percent, and contain virtually no carbohydrates, they are ideal for diabetics, pre-diabetics or anyone with blood sugar issues.

- Shannan


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Listen to this great podcast on the Whole Story, Whole Foods official blog. It's a representative of Boiron Homeopathics sharing great information on oscillococcinum. Oscillococcinum is a great remedy to have on hand this flu season!


Friday, October 23, 2009

Bay Laurel: Laurus Nobilis

I received a really fun package in the mail this week. About a month ago I entered a giveaway on a wonderful blog called Raw Epicurean. The post was about Bay Leaf and at the end you could enter to win products from Mountain Rose Herbs that centered around the Bay Leaf. By the way, I love this blog. It has great raw recipes and monthly talks about herbs in detail. Those of you who read regularly know that my love of herbs is seconded only by my love of learning about herbs. Anyway, oddly enough I won the giveaway and this week I received a fun little package from Mountain Rose Herbs with all things Bay Leaf. (Don't you just love the smell of bay leaf, it's just so refreshing!) I received a very generous bag of bay leaf, bay laurel essential oil and this great bar of organic soap scented with bay leaf. I love all my new treasures and the kids can't get enough of washing their hands with the new soap.

Here are some interesting facts about Bay Leaf and ways to use it.

Folk Uses:

  • It is the source of crowns and wreaths for heroes. Our term baccalaureate is probably derived from this practice of placing a wreath of laurel leaves on someone to bestow honor.

  • Romans considered the bay tree the best protection from thunderstorms and Nero in particular thought that bay trees purified "vapors" thought to cause disease. He wasn't entirely wrong as bay leaves possess a strong antiseptic quality.

  • Bay oil was very also very popular with the Romans who thought Bay was a symbol of wisdom, peace and protection.

Natural Healing

  • An oil of bay leaf can be used externally for sprains and bruises; and dropped into the ears to relieve earaches.

  • A tea of bay leaf can be used to promote digestion, create an appetite, or to stimulate menstruation. (Good to know - I will not be drinking any teas of this wonderful herb until after my pregnancy as it is a known abortifacient).

  • Bay leaves are mildly narcotic, anesthetic, antibacterial, anti fungal, antimicrobial, antiseptic, and sedative. Great for colds and flu and getting some rest.

  • Bay leaves have also been used to increase insulin sensitivity, lower blood sugars and retard weight gain.

Don't forget about the Bay Leaf's wonderful uses in cooking. A few bay leaves can be added to any soup, stew or casserole giving it a wonderful flavor. The bay leaf is a part of the flavorful blend of Bouquet Garni where it comes together with parsley and thyme to flavor soups, stews and sauces in traditional French, Moroccan, and Turkish dishes. Check out Raw Epicureans post on this wonderful herb for more culinary ideas.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget

Feeling the pinch of the current economic downturn on your grocery budget? There are a few, simply ways to trim your food budget, and just possibly trim your waistline in the meantime. Eating on a budget doesn't have to mean giving up on healthy whole foods.

1: When it comes to produce buy local. Choose produce that is in season and locally grown. Frozen produce is also a great alternative.

Did you know frozen fruits and veggies are just as nutritious, if not more nutritious, than the fresh fruits and vegetables in the produce section?

Frozen fruits and veggies are processed at peak ripeness, blanched (which causes minimal loss of soluble vitamins B (thiamin) and C, then flash-frozen, all within hours of being picked.

"Fresh" produce found in grocery stores, on the other hand, is picked before it is completely ripe, so isn't given a chance to fully develop all of its nutrients, then shipped to its destination. In that time, it's exposed to oxygen, heat, and light, which results in the loss of important vitamins, specifically vitamins B (Thiamin) and C.

You can use frozen produce in soups, stews, stir-fries, side dishes, and more. Try saute spinach with garlic, cauliflower mashed potatoes, or a vegetarian pasta dish.Frozen fruit: Add this to muffins and/or pancake mix; use in smoothies; blend and heat for a topping for pancakes, waffles, yogurt, or oatmeal; top warm berries with a dollop of frozen yogurt or whipped cream.

Serving size: 1 cup
Price per serving: 33 cents (broccoli), 90 cents (strawberries)
Nutrition per serving:
Overall fruits and veggies: good source of vitamins A and C and fiber, and low in calories, and fat-free
Broccoli (1 cup): 24 cals, 0 fat, 2 g fiber, 2 g pro, 10 percent DV Vit A, 2 percent DV Calcium, 60 percent DV Vit C, 2 percent DV lron
Strawberries (314 cup): 50 cals, 0 fat, 2 g fiber, 60 percent DV Vit C, 4 percent DV lron

2. Focus on the grains and not protein. Rice, pasta, and grains are a good way to round out a meal. Try to choose whole grain foods whenever possible.

Brown rice is a whole grain, high in manganese (useful for energy production, and an antioxidant) and selenium (an antioxidant, helps prevent colon cancer), as well as important B vitamins (Thiamin and Niacin, which are lost when refined).

The benefits of choosing whole grains over refined grains are numerous. To name a few: weight loss, increased satiety, stabilizing blood sugar, cancer prevention, prevention of heart disease.

Rice is a very versatile; it can be used in soups and stews, stir-fries, beans and rice, rice salad, rice pilaf, rice and bean cakes, rice pudding, and even healthy fried rice.

Serving size: 1/4 cup, uncooked
Price per serving: around 10 cents
Nutrition per serving: 150 cals, 1 g fat, 1 g fiber, 3 g pro, 4 percent
Daily Value Iron, 10 percent
Daily Value Thiamin, 10 percent
Daily Value Niacin

3. Invest time, not money. Forgo the convenience foods and focus on preparing dishes yourself and involve your family. While it might seem daunting to give up prepared foods, the premium you pay for someone to prepare foods for you will be invested instead in spending time with your family and cooking healthy alternatives.

Here are some great low cost recipes.

- Shannan

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ways to Treat Varicose Veins Naturally

Well, after Shannan's post on Raw Brownie Bites yesterday, I will admit that this topic doesn't sound very glamorous. It's unfortunately something that many women deal with at some point in their lives and I thought a little information might be helpful. I'm in my third pregnancy right now and have noticed a few unsightly veins developing. I've gotten together with a few other friends recently who are either pregnant with their second or third child and they are also dealing with this not so fun malady. The good news is that there are some things you can do to prevent and treat varicose veins naturally.

What are varicose veins?

Varicose veins are enlarged blue-ish, lumpy-looking veins close to the surface of the skin. They are caused by malfunctioning valves in the veins. Veins unlike arteries have valves in them that prevent blood flow from traveling backwards toward the arteries. When these malfunction, blood pools in the particular vein and varicose veins develop. There are several possible causes including pregnancy (pressure from an increased uterus size blocks the upward flow of blood from the legs), prolonged sitting or standing, lack of exercise, and habitually sitting with legs crossed. Constipation, heart failure, liver disease, and abdominal tumors can also play a role in the development of varicose veins.

  • Sit with feet elevated above heart as often as possible
  • Change positions frequently. Do not stand for long periods of time or sit in cross-legged positions

  • Walk at least a mile every day to improve overall circulation. This doesn't have to be done all at once either. Park farther away and walk into work or make a few laps around the house. Just increasing the distance you walk every day increases the circulation.

  • Avoid elastic-topped knee socks, garters, belts, or high-heeled shoes.
Nutritional Ways to Strengthen and Heal Varicose Veins
  • Get plenty of essential fatty acids which reduce pain and help keep blood vessels soft and pliable.

  • Dose up on vitamin C and vitamin C rich foods. Vitamin C aids circulation by reducing blood clotting tendencies.

  • Try herbs like bilberry, butcher's broom, ginkgo biloba, gotu kola, and hawthorn berries which are known to improve circulation in the legs.

  • Foods that are great to include in your diet to prevent and treat varicose veins include blackberries, cherries, garlic, ginger, onions, and pineapple.

  • Look into a few homeopathics that have been used to treat varicose veins. These include Ferrum metallicum, Hamamelis virginiana, and Pulsatilla.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Raw Brownie Bites

Karla and I have talked a lot about eating more Raw foods. We are both true believers in the virtues of Raw. Often though, since I am not quite immersed in the Raw lifestyle, I find some of the recipes to be a little complex or made with ingredients I don't have readily available. Therefore, Raw to me is often a carrot stick rather than a gourmet meal.

I am in love with the Raw Chocolate Mousse that Karla introduced us all to a while back. In fact, I have some in the refridgerator waiting for me right now. My reward for finally getting my post written today. :)

This led me to find another Raw dessert that looks easy and sounds tasty. I have to admit I haven't actually made this one yet but it is on my list. If you try it first let me know if it tastes as good as it looks. I will let you know what I think as well.

For the brownie bites
3 cups Pecans
2 Tbsp Almond Butter
1/4 cups Agave
1/4 cups Cacao
Pinch of quality salt

For the frosting
2 cups Cashews
2 tsp Vanilla
1/4 cups Agave
1/2 cups Water

Equipment needs
Food processorPastry bag, cone, press, etc.Optional: high speed blender

The How-To-Do-It
Let’s start with the frosting as it needs a few minutes in the fridge to set. Dump your cashews into the food processor/blender and process into a fine flour. Add in the vanilla, agave and half of the water into your processor/blender. Because this frosting is going to be thick, it can be hard to get it all mixed up by the blades. Add in more and more water (no more than the 1/2 cup) to thin it out and pause every few seconds to mix things up by hand. Be careful of the temperature of the frosting, it will heat up fast. Once you have the frosting mixed up, fill up your pastry bag, cone, press, etc. and set it in the fridge to firm up.

Now for the brownie goodness.
Dump the pecans into your food processor and process them down to a fine flour, then until it stops moving — some of the pecans will break down and release their oil and they will start to clump and turn into pecan butter (yum!). Give it a good stir by hand and then toss in the rest of the ingredients. Continue to process until the mixture forms a solid ball. Transfer to a bowl and give the dough a good stir by hand to make sure it is mixed well.

Grab a small amount of the dough and roll into a ball with your hands. Press the ball down with your thumb to flatten it out and make an impression in the middle. Place the flattened brownie bite onto a plate. Prepare the rest of the dough in this fashion. Next, take your frosting out of the fridge and have at it! Fill up the indentation of each brownie bite with ‘a healthy amount’ of the frosting.

These can be eaten right away, though the brownie dough is soft at room temperature. Put into the fridge for thirty minutes to firm up, or if you will not be serving them right away.

What could be better than a healthy chocolaty dessert!
- Shannan

Source: The Raw Dessert

Friday, October 16, 2009

Those Pesky Ear Infections

Do any of your children suffer from frequent ear infections? My little guy is quite prone to them in the winter season. It's completely genetic as I can recall frequent ear infections and the "purple medicine" that tasted like grapes my mother gave me to cure them.

I'm hoping that as he is turning 4 that maybe he will outgrow some of hisear infections, but if not I'm going to arm myself with some good natural remedies to try to fight them naturally.

Here are some ideas:
  1. Fresh raw garlic juice applied directly to the ear. (I hear it also keeps the vampires away this time of year!) :)

  2. A few drops of lobelia extract applied into the infected ear.

  3. Wash the affected ear with colloidal silver. It's a natural antibiotic.

  4. Oil of Mullein applied to the ear numbs the pain and has an antibiotic effect. This can be purchased in a store or made at home. Check out my post on mullein for more ideas.

Do any of you have a child that suffers from frequent ear infections? What have you tried that works?


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Exercise and Immunity

We have recently discussed how to boost our immunity during this cold and flu season through healthy eating, vitamins and other natural remedies.

Another answer may be as easy as taking a daily walk or following a simple exercise routine a few times a week. Exercise not only helps your immune system fight off simple bacterial and viral infections, but it may actually decrease the incidence of illnesses such as heart disease, osteoporosis, and cancer.

How does exercise cause a boost in your immune system? There are several theories. First, physical activity may help by flushing bacteria out from the lungs (thus decreasing the chance of a cold, flu, or other airborne illness) and may flush out carcinogens (cancer-causing cells) by increasing waste output, such as urine and sweat.

Another possible reason is that exercise is responsible for sending antibodies and white blood cells (the body's defense cells) through the body at a quicker rate. As these antibodies or white blood cells circulate more rapidly, they could detect illnesses earlier than they might normally. The increased rate of circulating blood may also trigger the release of hormones that "warn" immune cells of intruding bacteria or viruses.

Furthermore, the temporary elevation of body temperature may inhibit bacterial growth, allowing the body to fight the infection more effectively. (This is similar to what happens when the body has a fever.) Finally, exercise slows down the release of stress-related hormones. Stress increases the chance of illness, so physical activity could reverse this factor.

While all this is good news for those who already exercise, do not "over-do" physical activity. People who already exercise regularly are cautioned not to develop too vigorous a workout program in the hopes of increasing the immunity benefits. Heavy, long-term exercise (such as marathon running and intense gym training - 90 mins or more) could actually decrease the amount of white blood cells circulating through the body and increase the presence of stress-related hormones.

Studies have shown that the people who benefit most from starting (and sticking to) an exercise program are those who go from a sedentary ("couch potato") lifestyle to a moderately energetic lifestyle. A moderate program can consist of daily 20 to 30 minute walks, going to the gym every other day, playing golf regularly, or bicycling with the children a few times a week.

So, while we don't know exactly how and why exercise increases your immunity to certain illnesses, we do know that exercise helps. It decreases our chances of developing heart disease and osteoporosis and may help us avoid those nagging coughs and colds. Exercise can help us feel better about ourselves, just by making us feel more energetic and healthier. So go ahead, take that aerobics class or go for that walk - and feel better and healthier for it.

- Shannan

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hydrogen: Nature's Moisturizer

So let's move on this month and look at another very important mineral that our bodies need. This time it's Hydrogen. You are probably more familiar with hydrogen in water. You know, two parts hydrogen and one part water. H2O. Water is actually 11% hydrogen. Water is a huge component in most natural foods we eat and therefore, so is hydrogen.

What Does Hydrogen Do?

  • Soothes nerves

  • Moisturizes tissues

  • Helps transport nutrients (in water)

  • Promotes elimination

  • Prevents inflammation

  • Promotes osmosis

  • Helps regulate temperature

  • Irrigates organs and cells

Signs of Hydrogen Deficiency

  • Dehydration

  • Emaciation, leanness

  • Crampy tendons

  • Appetite for salty food

  • Irritability

  • Dry skin, throat

  • Wrinkled skin

  • Lack of perspiration

  • Gout

  • Arthritis, rheumatism

  • Excess body heat

Where to Find Hydrogen in Natural Foods: Apricots, Asparagus, Blackberries, Blueberries, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Buttermilk, Cabbage, Carrots, Celery, Chard, Cherries, Eggplant, Fish, Guavas, Horseradish, Juniper tea, Kefir, Kohlrabi, Mango's, Milk, Muskmelon, Okra, Papaya, Parsley, Peaches, Pineapple, Prunes, Pumpkin, Radishes, Rutabaga, Sauerkraut, Sorrel, Spinach, Squash, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Turnips, Watercress, Watermelon, and Whey.

Recipes that Contain High Hydrogen Foods

I find it interesting that it's not so much the expensive creams and lotions that we put on the outside of our body that make a difference in the moisture of our skin as it is the wholesome natural foods we eat.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Veggie of the Month - Edemame

Not long ago I tried edemame as and appetizer in a restaurant. I thought I would give it a try with the family and to my surprise, my girls really liked it.

Many people are familiar with the soybean, but few have experienced the sweet, nutty taste of the “green soybean” known as edamame. This tasty bean is growing in popularity as a healthy and nutritious snack, particularly among the college crowd – and for good reason. When compared to other snacks, edamame leads the pack in terms of nutritional value. What are the health benefits of edamame?

What is Edamame?
Edamame refers to soybeans that are harvested and collected when the plant is still young and green. To prepare this tasty vegetable, they’re usually boiled in salt water while still in the pods and served as a snack or side dish. They can also be removed from the pods and added to soups and salads. When eaten as a snack, the pods are usually placed in the mouth and the beans gently squeezed onto the tongue. The pod is then discarded. You can find them served in some vegetarian restaurants on college campuses and in some Japanese restaurants. Unlike mature soybeans that are firm, these young, green soybeans are soft in texture and have more pleasing taste.

Health Benefits of Edamame: Protein, Fat, and Calories
Edamame is an excellent source of low-calorie protein which makes it a popular snack among vegetarian athletes. A half-cup of these young beans has eleven grams of protein and is one of the few vegetarian protein sources that have all nine of the essential amino acids the body can’t make. The fat in edamame is the heart-healthy kind, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that help to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Plus, they’re a caloric bargain at only125 calories

Health Benefits of Edamame: Fiber
Each half-cup of edamame has four grams of heart-healthy fiber to help lower cholesterol levels and keep you satiated so you won’t reach for a candy bar later on. If you’re like most Americans, you can use the additional fiber boost.

Health Benefits of Edamame: It’s Heart Healthy
The isoflavones found in edamame and other soy products can help to lower the risk of heart disease according to some studies and may also lower blood cholesterol levels. When edamame is used as a protein source in place of meat, the cardiovascular benefits are further enhanced. The issue of whether isoflavones lower the risk of breast cancer is still under debate, so soy products should be eaten in limited quantity in anyone with a history of breast cancer. Edamame is also a good source of folate and vitamin K which are important for heart health.

Health Benefits of Edamame: Bone Health
The isoflavones in edamame help to maintain bone density by exerting estrogen-like effects on bone tissue. It’s also a good source of calcium which is important for strong teeth and bones.

Where Can You Find Edamame?
Edamame used to be sold almost exclusively through natural food markets and Oriental grocery stores, but can now be found in the frozen section of many mainstream grocery stores. Why not give them a try?

- Shannan
Source: HealthMad

Friday, October 9, 2009

It's a Girl and More Great Juicing Recipes

Well, today marks 21 weeks of pregnancy for me. I can't really believe it's flying by this fast. I'm over the halfway mark. We found out a couple of weeks ago that this little one will be a girl. This will give us 2 girls and a boy - the boys are officially outnumbered at our house.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had increased my juicing to provide lots of minerals, vitamins, and enzymes to our growing baby and to give me lots of energy to complete all my mom and work duties. I'm also counting on it to get me safely through cold and flu season. So far so good! There seems to be a great interest in juicing out there due to the number of hits on that post so I thought as we head into the weekend I would share a couple more of my favorite juicing recipes. Try them this weekend and enjoy!

Tomato, carrot, celery and lime juice

2 medium tomatoes
1 lime, peeled
1 large carrot
2 celery stalks
1 bunch of favorite lettuce or greens, vary

Process the tomatoes, lime, carrot, celery and lettuce through juicer and serve. This one packs a real punch with the lime in it. I love it!

Blackberry, grapefruit and pear juice

8 ounces blackberries
2 grapefruits, peeled
3 ripe pears, stalks removed
1 bunch of favorite lettuce or greens, vary

Process the blackberries, grapefruit, pear and lettuce through the juicer and serve. For some reason I'm really loving grapefruit right now and with the combination of blackberries and pear this is such a treat!


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Vitamin D

As Karla mentioned in her post on Cold and Flu Season, vitamin D can play a role in preventing a more severe case of the seasonal flu. In addition sufficient levels of vitamin D are known to help prevent high blood pressure, certain cancers, osteoporosis, kidney disease, liver disease, multiple sclerosis and more.

Studies have shown that as many as 60% of us are deficient in vitamin D. Some common reasons for vitamin D deficiency are being overweight (vitamin D is fat soluable, it can be taken into fat cells and stored, thus making it potentially less available in our body's metabolism.), being dark skinned (it takes more sunlight for your body to absorb the vitamin D) or simply due to your geographic area (you simply are not exposed to as much sun).

Sun is the best source of vitamin D. In the U.S. if you live north of Texas you are probably not getting sufficient amounts of sunlight starting in the Fall. Light skinned individuals require 10 - 15 minutes of sunlight 2-3 times per week when the shadow you cast is shorter than you. In other words, the sun is high in the sky. Dark skinned individuals require one hour.

Fish such as salmon, shrimp and cod are a excellent to very good sources of vitamin D. If you are not likely to eat the amount of fish required to maintain a good vitamin D level, you may supplement with cod liver oil.

Dairy products are often fortified with plant based vitamin D. These can be good sources of vitamin D, but are not as good for humans as the animal version.

Eggs are another good source of vitamin D.

The only way to really know your vitamin D levels is to be tested. Your doctor can then interpret your vitamin D level and recommend dietary changes or supplements if necessary.

- Shannan

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cold and Flu Season

I saw on the news yesterday that the first doses of the swine flu vaccine were being given. I haven't gotten into the swine flu debate much up to this point for several reasons.

  • For one thing, I really don't know and neither does anyone else whether this virus will really sweep the nation this fall and winter or if it will be a minor blip on the sickness radar. I work in a hospital so I know that last spring there were quite a few serious cases and some deaths attributed to the swine flu. However, there are many deaths yearly from the regular flu.

  • Even if the swine flu does sweep the nation, I don't know for certain that a new, as yet untested vaccine will stop the progression. I also don't know what kind of harm the vaccination will cause. Or, is this vaccination really a life-saver? I really don't know the answer and really none of us will until after it's over.

I'm choosing to prepare for this flu season by improving my health and stocking up on a few of my favorite natural remedies. Here are a few suggestions.

  • Eat a whole foods diet with 50 to 60% raw food. There is nothing like real food to strengthen your body and immune system to help it fight off bacterial or viral invaders. Search our recipes section for great ideas on whole foods or how to modify favorite foods to get more nutrition in.

  • Juice! Raw juice is so full of nutrients and enzymes. Enzymes are important in helping digest your food, but did you know if they aren't used up in the digestion process they actually head over and join the immune system task force? Conversely, if you eat only cooked and processed food, your body must produce all the digestive enzymes and some of those are stolen from your immune system leaving you wide open for attack. Click here, here, and here for great posts with juicing info and ideas.
  • Purchase some Colloidal Silver and take at the first sign of sickness. Colloidal silver is a broad spectrum product that will kill more than 650 disease producing bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Read more about it in this post.

  • My new favorite product is Oscillococcinum. This is a homeopathic that you take at the first signs of flu or when you get that run down feeling. It lessens the impact of the flu and shortens the duration of sickness. I can tell you that it works too! One of the kids brought something home from school the very first week and it spread to both kids and my husband. My daughter and husband only needed one dose of O and they were feeling better the next day. The little guy needed another round but was feeling much better soon after. I was impressed. For more interesting reading on other great homeopathics read these posts.

  • Olive Leaf is another potent antiviral that I plan to keep around the house this winter. Mountain Rose sells it in capsule form or in leaf form. Of course the capsule form is sold out (everyone is stocking up), but the leaf form is available. You can add it to a tea, smoothie, or make a nice tincture of it to keep on hand.

  • One last thing I would recommend is making sure you are getting enough Vitamin D. Although it's not in a published study, there has been some sort of link identified between low vitamin D levels and more severe cases of the flu. Low vitamin D levels can impact your health on many fronts though so it will benefit you to keep a healthy level, especially going into the winter season with less sun exposure. If you are like me and you don't really like to take supplements without knowing if you are deficient, ask your health provider at your next visit to test your vitamin D level. I was surprised to find this August that mine was low. I'm outside all summer and tan very well, but still mine was low. With the combination of pregnancy and winter on it's way, I'm taking extra vitamin D this winter.

These are just a few of my favorite ways to prevent and treat the flu. The natural remedy world is thankfully rich in ways we can protect and heal our bodies. Most every herb has some sort of anti-microbial properties in addition to healing properties. Feel free to share in the comments section if you have another favorite remedy for our readers to prepare for this cold and flu season.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Yummy Yogurt Waffles

Since I seem to be on a healthy breakfast kick, here is a new waffle recipe we tried. It is a little heavier and more filling than a normal waffle due to the yogurt, whole wheat flour and oat bran, but was yummy with some sliced strawberries and whipped cream. The girls thought whipped cream on their waffles was quite a treat!

I enjoyed the fact that you can throw all of the ingredients into the blender and then just pour the batter directly onto the hot waffle iron. Saved on a little mess and clean-up.

Yogurt Waffles

1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
3 eggs
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup oat bran
pinch of salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)

Combine all the ingredients in a blender or stir them together until well mixed. Cook the waffles on a hot waffle iron. Serve them hot, topped with more yogurt, fresh fruit, maple syrup, honey or peanut butter.


ource: meals matter

Friday, October 2, 2009

St John's Wort

Awhile back I purchased several herbs with the intention of making a healing salve. The process is rather involved and the first step is to let the herbs steep in olive oil to draw out their healing properties. I finally carved out the time last week to get the process started and now I have little jars of herbs and oil sitting in my window. I will update you with how the salve turns out in a later post. The salve recipe calls for St. Johns Wort and as I busied myself preparing the salve, I realized I knew very little about this herb. I thought a little research would be interesting and this is what I found.

St. John's Wort is beautiful yellow-flowering perennial also known as Hypericum Perforatum, Tipton's weed, or Klamath weed. It's name comes from it's traditional flowering and harvesting on St. John's Day or June 24th. It was traditionally used to ward off evil by hanging the flowers over a religious icon in the house on St. John's Day.

Nutritional Healing Properties

  • The most common use of St. John's Wort is as an herbal treatment for depression. In fact, the Cochrane Review, a key resource in evidence-based medicine, "the available evidence suggests that the hypericum extracts tested in the included trials are superior to placebo in patients with major depression; are similarly effective as standard antidepressants; and have fewer side effects than standard antidepressants." Hmmm...interesting.

  • This herb has some anti-bacterial properties especially against gram negative bacteria.

  • When used externally - like the healing salve I'm preparing - it acts as an anti-inflammatory, astringent and antiseptic.

  • Native Americans used strong doses of this tea as an abortifacient so do not use this herb during pregnancy.

Ways to Use

  • This herb can be taken in capsule form.

  • Drinking a tea or standard decoction of this herb can be very soothing.

  • Also interesting, there is a homeopathic made from St. John's wort. It's called Hypericum perfoliatum. It's great for healing and soothing nerve pain such as from crushing injuries; tailbone injuries; injuries to nerve-rich areas like the fingertips, toes, spine, palms or soles; and burns.

This is a great herb to support and heal your nervous system! Mountain Rose Herbs sells this great herb in leaf or capsule form.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Learning Begins with Breakfast

A few weeks ago my husband and I attended a meeting at our girls school and amongst the suggestions of a large enough pencil case and various bits of information, their teacher made a point of requesting that students eat breakfast before they show up each day. My first thought was "who isn't feeding their 5-year-old breakfast in the morning?" But then I thought about it a little more...sometimes it is hard to get your child up and ready and I suppose breakfast could be missed.

Studies have shown though that children who eat a healthy breakfast in the morning are more able to focus in school and actually do better in school that those who don't eat. Can you imagine how a growing body must feel after fasting for 12 or more hours? By lunchtime there is no more fuel.

So what should kids eat for breakfast?
Any breakfast is better than no breakfast, but try not to have doughnuts or pastries all the time. They're high in calories, sugar, and fat. They also don't contain the nutrients a kid really needs. And if you have a doughnut for breakfast, you won't feel full for long.

Just like with other meals, try to eat a variety of foods, including:
grains (breads and cereals)
protein (meats, beans, and nuts)
fruits and vegetables
milk, cheese, and yogurt

Here are some breakfast ideas. First, the traditional ones:
French toast, waffles, or pancakes (try wheat or whole-grain varieties)
cold cereal and milk
hot cereal, such as oatmeal or cream of wheat (try some dried fruit or nuts on top)
whole-grain toast, bagel, or English muffin with cheese
yogurt with fruit or nuts
fruit smoothie, such as a strawberry smoothie

And now some weird (but yummy) ones:
banana dog (peanut butter, a banana, and raisins in a long whole-grain bun)
breakfast taco (shredded cheese on a tortilla, folded in half and microwaved; top with salsa)
country cottage cheese (apple butter mixed with cottage cheese)
fruit and cream cheese sandwich (use strawberries or other fresh fruit)
sandwich - grilled cheese, peanut butter and jelly, or another favorite
leftovers (they're not just for dinner anymore!)

If your kid prefers a piece of cold pizza in the morning, why not? It is definitely better than nothing.

Remember, you can always mix up the pancake batter the night before and keep it in the refridgerator. Or better yet, make a double batch of pancakes or waffles on the weekend, freeze them and pop on into the toaster on a busy weekday morning.

One of my kids favorites is a frozen yogurt pop. They feel like they are having a treat for breakfast but it is actually good for them.

- Shannan

This blog is for informational purposes only. Nothing in this blog is intended to replace the advice of a physician. We recommend consulting a physician before embarking on diet changes or a fitness routine. In addition, we recommend that you thoroughly research alternate points of view and make your own decisions as an informed consumer. You are ultimately responsible for your health.