Category Archives: Natural Education

Simple Fixes Can Make All The Difference

I’ve got to say, I was damn near having PTSD flashbacks watching this man walk. That’s exactly what shape I was in twenty years ago.  You don’t feel the pain as part of the memory,  but you just hunch your shoulders, tighten your muscles and hold your breath due to a combination muscle memory and fear… you fear that pain.  Once you know it, there’s no joking about it, and the thought of going back there can be absolutely paralyzing.

 

The pain was so excruciating, it felt like lightning strikes from even the slightest move in the wrong direction.  If you put your right hand on your hip, that little dip where your thumb is resting was the point of origin for the pain and it went straight down my leg.

 

My primary care doctor just kept handing me pills… 40 mg Oxycontin three times a day, which I kept telling them that they weren’t working, but that was the new miracle drug on the scene then so in their opinion it was about finding the right dosage, no matter how high the dosage or how often it was taken because it couldn’t NOT work; it was a miracle after all, right?
I was given Percocet for breakthrough pain (which was incredibly necessary since it was ALL breakthrough pain!) but still mixed with the Oxycontin I was taking.  Parkinson’s meds for the restless leg caused by a herniated disc,  Klonopin because the pain caused me to be really anxious (go figure) and a host of more pharmaceutical granola, including the 150 mg of Zoloft I was taking twice a day mainly due to the pain meds and my Depo-Provera shots.  I didn’t find out about Depo causing extreme depression until 7 years later.

 

No one thought to look at my neck even though they all knew what had happened to me in an earlier accident and the damage that was done.  It’s been twenty years and I’m still dealing with the nerve and muscle damage in my neck and left trapezius muscle.  At least now I know if this ever starts up again that the ice pack needs to go on my neck, not on my the back of my hip.

This really reinforces my dislike for allopathic practices, they treat the symptoms, they don’t work towards finding definitive answers regarding causative issues and never work towards curing or helping the body learn to help itself.  Holistic approaches, treating the patient instead of the symptom, homeopathic remedies that take so little to do so much with no side effects, addictions, OD’s, etc.  Considering the opioid problem we’re having in this country you’d think they’d shy away from things that are addictive or that you can OD from.

 

My gallbladder went rogue a couple of years ago and became my enemy.  It took me a week of pain so severe that I was ready to die. The pain was so severe that it grossly exceeded my natural childbirth.  I had a high fever joined with pain meds which caused me to hallucinate or pass out with horrific nightmares – that included feeling the pain from within the events of the nightmare.  If it was a choice of staying in the bed to die or going down the mile long gravel road that rattled your teeth loose that would cause even more pain, I was ready to die in that bed.

I finally had a brief window where the pain had subsided so I asked my roommate at the time to take me to the ER where they admitted me immediately.  Once the antibiotics started doing their job, the pain subsided as it should have (thank God!) and I didn’t need a whole lot of pain meds.  I asked for a couple Tylenol and was instead given a shot of morphine!  Why?  Because it was easier for the staff.  And again, it was over-medicating instead of dealing with the patient (in this case me) to see what’s going on instead of assuming.  I finally told them then to mark my chart to say that I am allergic to morphine to keep them from doing it again.

 

Watching that video, all I could think was how much pain I would have been spared, how much time that Kid wouldn’t have been so neglected as a result, and that still throws shadows on our relationship to this day.  How many people could be treated differently, not only with dignity but in partnership with their doctor to actively work together to solve or treat things to achieve the best outcomes for the patients?  I have fibromyalgia and talk to anyone who has it and they can tell you about the disrespect and mistreatment and/or lack of treatment that they have had because of it.

This country needs to stop being grabbed by the  ______  from the pharmaceutical companies that want us on multiple pills so they make multiple sales, and push for treatment because a cure doesn’t help their bottom line in perpetuity.

We need to be seen as patients, not as symptoms.  We’re not a pile of disconnected body parts, we’re all connected, and it means that we shouldn’t be treated as a series of separate body parts.  Maybe then we can return quality of live and work on being a healthier country overall.

 

We’ll talk again soon, 
Maggie  

 
 

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Ghee… Huh, wait, what?

Ghee

Ghee

Ghee [gee] – noun – a kind of liquid butter, used especially in the cooking of India, utilizing butter made from the milk of cows then clarified by boiling.

Ghee, funny name, oh believe me I know.  It’s pronounced with a “g” like gorgeous and that’s exactly what it is.  I originally learned about ghee while following a lightweight backpacking online group.  It’s utilized by backpackers because it is shelf-stable (no refrigeration needed) and so much more flavorful than oil for cooking.  All I knew at this point was that it was Indian butter.

My friend’s son is autistic and was put on “the diet” (gluten, casein, soy & corn free  – with great results I might add).  We were busy looking for new and creative recipes for the family so he wasn’t singled out when I once again saw ghee references. I started looking at you tube videos and recipes online.  Now I’m a very confident cook and always ready to try new things but this was different, Tyler could have ghee but not butter so if I made a mistake I could cause problems for him.  I finally worked up the nerve to make a batch with the help of my former boss, a wonderful woman and dear friend from India who walked me through the process better than a you tube video ever could (thanks again Paulomi!).  Once made, we passed it around and tasted it in absolute awe.  It’s like butter, but so so much better.  Unlike anything we’d ever tasted before.

EatingWell

How do you make ghee?

Truly, you boil the butter.  That’s it. Then you strain it.  (Seems too simple, I don’t get it..)

First you start by putting butter in a good solid bottomed pan.  My daughter gave me an enamel coated Lodge cast iron Dutch oven for Christmas several years ago which is now known as my ghee pot.

Next, the butter.  Well, here’s where it doesn’t matter too much because you’re removing the dairy, as well as the salt.  I am in an area where I can pick up Amish butter at a great price.  If you’re looking for grass-fed only, look for Kerry Gold.  To my knowledge it’s the only grass-fed that’s commercially available.  However, I have stocked up on butter at the grocery when it went on sale and made ghee with it and not noticed a difference in the end result.

When the butter starts to melt it will go from its normal pale yellowish white to a bright yellow and creamy.  Once it comes to a simmer/gentle boil, leave it.  Come back every once in a while (20 minutes or so) and stir it.  I use a plastic pancake turner with a straight edge because it allows me to scrape the bottom to keep the solids from sticking.  I have a wooden paddle but I noticed that it tends to absorb the salt as well as the oils.  You’ll find some people will refer to ghee as clarified butter but that is incorrect.  Clarified butter (or drawn butter) is made at this first stage when the butter first separates but is still that bright yellow.  (Think of what they serve at Red Lobster with your crab legs). As it continues to boil it will become more and more clear and more of an amber color and all the butter.  The batch I have in the picture was boiled for approximately 2 hours.

Time to strain.  I have wire strainer that I set over the bowl from my Kitchen-Aid mixer (in the picture).  I then took my cheesecloth and folded it in quarters and put it in the strainer.  I poured the finished ghee through the cheesecloth to strain out the carbonized dairy solids.  Once it all strained, I then picked up the cheesecloth by the corners (making a pouch) and kept twisting it tight to squeeze out any ghee that was left.  Believe me when I say this step is worth it.  Between the solids and the cheesecloth you should be able to squeeze out several ounces.  As you can see by the picture, there are a lot of dairy solids that come out.  This also contains the casein which is an allergen for some folks, as well as one of the offending items for autistic kids.

Here’s what’s removed from the butter when you turn it into ghee. The dairy is completely carbonized. I strained it through cheesecloth then squeezed out the excess.ghee 2I started with 6 pounds of butter (on sale $2 a pound). The finished result netted me 1 quart jar and 7 eight ounce jars. This lasted us for about 12 weeks.  Put the lids on and put it in the cabinet.  Treat it as you would any other oil.  Just so you’re aware, if your home is cool this may start to solidify and that’s okay, you haven’t done anything wrong making it.

Mountain Rose Herbs. A herbs, health and harmony c

Okay, I made it.  Now what do I do with it?

The question now is what can’t you do with it?  It can be used in any recipe for oil or butter.  Here’s the best part IMO.  Ever get a pan too hot when you’re going to cook something with butter and it burns?  Not with ghee.  All the parts that would burn, you’ve already removed.  You can pan fry your eggs or fish, brush it on bread for a grilled cheese or as toast, drizzle it on broccoli or popcorn… you name it!.  My favorite is to sauté garlic in ghee for a few minutes.  It’ll taste like you roasted it in the oven for an hour!  Put that in some mashed potatoes or cauliflower and you will think you’re in heaven.

There’s benefits too?

Ghee has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine and diet.  It’s believed to lubricate joints, help with mental function (not unlike newly discovered properties of coconut oil), stimulate digestion and even aid in the absorption of herbs and spices from dishes for medicinal benefit.

Try it out and tell me what you think.  I guarantee you’re going to keep it in the house all the time and convert your friends.  Be sure to share this with them too!

Maggie 

 

PTSD Awareness

June is PTSD Awareness Month, and it’s more common than you might realize.

PTSD-after-Open-Heart-SurgeryWhat is PTSD?

It’s estimated that approximately 20% of combat vets suffer from PTSD and only half will seek treatment.  But they’re not alone. Originally noted by terms of “shell shock” and “battle fatigue”, we’ve come to realize that it’s not just soldiers who suffer from this. Anyone who has been subject to a severe emotional trauma can experience this as their mind tries to process what has happened.

Abuse victims, rape victims, victims of violent crimes, combat, natural disasters, etc. all take time to emotionally heal from what they’ve experienced. However when the symptoms are severe and they last more than four months, they may very well have PTSD.

PTSD occur

It’s estimated that as many 8% of all Americans (over 24 million) will experience PTSD in their lifetime.  We tend to hear the term thrown around but I wonder how many people really know what it is?

PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is characterized by three types of symptoms:

Reliving the event – Most commonly known as flashbacks or triggers, hearing a car backfire can trigger someone to re-experience sounds of gunfire, seeing a car accident can cause someone to relive their own traumatic event, etc.  Something as subtle as a news broadcast or online video, a sound or even a smell can trigger this things during waking life.  Reliving the event in dreams is common as well.

Avoidance of reminders – This can be avoiding tv or movies with similar subject matter such as war movies or ones with fires, earthquakes or one where a character is raped, or avoiding similar locations.  For example, getting robbed at an atm may cause you to only take cash out when you’re at the store so you don’t have to go near the bank.

Having been in a shoe store when it got robbed caused one of my best friends to not be able to bring herself to go in that chain store again for many years; and not just that location but all of them since they all look-alike.

Feeling numb or keyed up – Staying “numb”, shutting down emotionally as a means of not dealing with feeling… with people, activities or even forgetting parts of the traumatic event or just not be able to talk about them.

Being “keyed up” includes sudden rushes to anger or irritability, trouble sleeping or concentrating, becoming almost paranoid about your safety or startling very easily.

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I was working in a restaurant years ago as an hourly supervisor when we were robbed at gunpoint.  No one was hurt thankfully and it was over in about a minute.  It was my last day of work before vacation which I thought was a blessing at the time but it turned out to be my downfall.  With not being there, I wasn’t able to deal with it and fear took over.  When I did go back to work, I couldn’t be anywhere near the register without breaking into a sweat from a panic attack.  My boss was very understanding and accommodated me stepping down from my supervisory position for a couple of weeks and kept me in the kitchen. Sadly it just got worse.

After 9 years with the company I wound up putting in my notice and left because I just couldn’t handle even being in the building anymore. I had nightmares regularly for a couple of years after the incident, each time I wound up getting shot, even though no one got hurt in real life.

A year later my family and I went out to dinner (my daughter was 4 at the time) and my sister noticed a sign that it was supposed to be family night complete with a clown and balloons.  As the server came by my sister asked where the clown was and that my daughter would enjoy a balloon only to be told that he had already left for the night since there weren’t many children in the restaurant.  I was tending to my daughter and heard my sister exclaim “we got robbed” – speaking of the clown and the balloons.  I however broke into a cold sweat and started crying and eventually excused myself to go throw up.  The very definition of being “keyed up” and “startling easily”

I’ve dealt with many things in my life, which to me (on paper at least) would seem to be more traumatic that this one minute window of time… but it derailed me for a several years.  I have no idea why one incident would create such a lasting effect while others did not.  I never sought help, in fact I didn’t even know that what I experienced even had a name.  It wasn’t until many years later when I was retelling the story to someone when they told me it was PTSD.  Had I or someone around me known what it was, I could have sought help to deal with it.

The effects of PTSD run deep

PTSD doesn’t just affect your moods and  your dreams. There is a physiological component to PTSD.  Studies have shown that there are physical changes that take place in the brain.  In other words, your brain gets rewired.  That’s why overcoming it is so difficult. Most affected are the limbic system and the prefrontal cortex.

The brain controls everything, so physiological changes can affect all areas of your body and life.  The limbic system, located deep in the cerebrum, is composed of the amygdala, the hippocampus and they hypothalamus.

The amygdala deals with our primal instincts – fear, panic and all that’s associated with it; Heart rate changes,  sweaty palms, tremors, even nausea and diarrhea.

The hippocampus handles memory which is why people with PTSD can lose sections of their memory and even what’s called “anterograde amnesia” which is the inability to form new memories even if the old ones are completely intact.  These changes are thought to be caused by increased exposure to cortisol, also known the “stress” hormone.

The hypothalamus controls hormone production.  It affects sex drive, weight gain, sleep, thirst, body temperature, hunger and the release of hormones from other glands including the pituitary.  The pituitary gland is a critical part of our ability to respond the environment around us, most often without our knowledge.

The prefrontal cortex area controls your cognitive behavior, decision-making and even appropriate social behavior.

That’s just the start of it.  These changes convert into pain sensitivity, auto-immune disorders, fibromyalgia, etc.  Alcohol and drug use and abuse are frequent occurrences as well in the attempt to self-medicate and cope with all that one is dealing with.  As you can see, it’s not just a simple bad memory but your world being turned completely out of control.

 

National-PTSD-Awareness-Day1-226x300

If you’ve had symptoms like these, please find someone to talk to and know that you’re not alone.  If you know someone who is having these issues, please give them the help and empathy they need to deal with it.  Know that they have to heal in their own time.  There is no schedule, no cure, no pill they can take to make it go away, just time, support and understanding.

June is PTSD awareness month, and I’m so glad that it’s getting a bit of a spotlight, but knowing exactly what it is, is crucial to dealing with it.  So please, share the word.

{{{hugs}}}
Maggie

All Natural Wasp Remover

As most of you who follow me know, I have COPD which is why I’m so passionate about non-chemical ways to do things. Fumes are not my friend.  My sister was a severe asthmatic from birth so we’ve always been mindful about toxins and fumes.

Then today in my email I found a link for a DIY Wasp Remover and I followed it to a YouTube video and I’ve got to say… GENIOUS!

As soon as I go grocery shopping again I will get a big brown paper bag (another great reason to go to Aldi) so I can put this on the front porch where we’ve been getting wasps!

It’s frugal, it’s non-toxic, you don’t have to worry about kids and pets being around chemicals; and you don’t have to worry about getting stung while trying to spray a can of poison!  And no worries about asthma attacks or COPD exacerbation either!

 

{{{hugs}}}

Maggie

Rheumatoid Arthritis – Diet and Routine Can Affect Your Symptoms

Approximately 1.3 million Americans, mostly women, are affected by rheumatoid arthritis.  RA is a long-term chronic autoimmune disease that is treatable, but not curable.

For some, the disease can go into remission periods, while for others the disease is a constant presence in their lives especially as it progresses.  RA causes moderate to severe pain as it destroys and disfigures the joints in the body; symptoms can be exacerbated by “triggers”.

Although rheumatoid arthritis can involve different parts the body, joints are always affected. When the disease acts up, joints become inflamed. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to infection or other threats, but in rheumatoid arthritis inflammation occurs inappropriately and for unknown reasons.

Strong medication can help, but knowing what things can trigger your symptoms can be your first line of defense in keeping the disease under control and pain manageable.  In the big picture, these play minor roles in RA in comparison to taking the right medication for instance, but a whole body approach is always best in managing disease rather than expecting one specific treatment or medication to manage it entirely.

Smoking

One factor that affects RA is smoking, says Susan Goodman, MD, a rheumatologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.  “Smoking clearly has an impact—it makes it worse and increases the likelihood of getting it,” she says.

RA nonsmokers have fewer swollen, painful joints than smokers, research suggests. RA smokers are three times as likely to have rheumatoid factor—a sign of more severe disease—and twice as likely to have joint damage.

Coffee

The link between coffee or tea and RA is debatable. Research has suggested that decaf coffee (four or more cups a day) can increase the risk of getting RA, but caffeinated coffee has no impact, and tea may reduce risk. Other research found no correlation between decaf and RA.

One issue, though, is that coffee may make some RA medications, such as methotrexate, less potent, therefore limiting its effectiveness.

Weather

While research on the topic is few and far between, there does seem to be a link between weather and RA symptoms. It is likely that barometric pressure and temperature changes have the biggest impact on symptoms because it affects the swelling of the joints.

As with many conditions, any change in climate tends to worsen symptoms—so RA patients may fare better when the weather is more consistent.

Seasonal allergies

As with the other factors on the list, the link between RA and allergies may vary from person to person.

Still, there is some research that suggests that people with RA are less likely to have hay fever. And people who do have both may have less-severe RA symptoms.

“My guess is that some of the allergy medications may help with some (RA) symptomatic therapy,” Dr. Goodman says. “Or it could just be that people notice RA symptoms less because they are so distracted and miserable with their allergies.”

Another possible answer is that the histamines from the allergies or the antihistamines taken for treatment could play a role as well.

Alcohol

In a recent study in the journal Rheumatology, researchers asked about 1,800 people about their alcohol-drinking habits and RA.

They found that people who had at least one drink three or more days a week were four times less likely to have RA than nondrinkers.   Also, RA patients who did drink tended to have milder symptoms than those who didn’t.

Add a glass of wine with dinner a few nights a week and see if you experience added relief.

Vitamin D

The link between vitamin D and RA is tricky.

Research suggests women in the northeastern U.S. are at greater risk of RA than those in sunnier regions. Lack of sun can cause vitamin D deficiency. And vitamin D deficiency has been linked with other autoimmune diseases.

“Vitamin D has a lot of interesting immune effects and metabolic effects and is critical to bone health,” Dr. Goodman says. “Whether taking vitamin D will delay the onset or prevent it seems less clear-cut, but it is an important part of overall bone health.”

Pregnancy

It’s tough to predict the impact of pregnancy on RA. Women generally stop taking medication in pregnancy because the drugs may hurt the fetus.

For some, RA symptoms improve or even go into remission, Dr. Goodman says. She attributes this to the fact that the immune system is suppressed during pregnancy.

But others can experience even more pain than they normally do. And those who have a great pregnancy can have a flare-up after they give birth.

Breast-feeding

There are many benefits to breast-feeding, including a possible reduction in RA risk.

A 2004 study in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism found that, compared to women who didn’t breast-feed, those who spent a total of one to two years breast-feeding had a 20% lower chance of getting RA. Those who did for two years or more had a 50% reduced risk.

A 2008 Swedish study showed similar results. Breast-feeding for up to one year was associated with a 25% reduced risk, and breast-feeding for 13 months or more was linked to a 50% reduction in risk.

Hormones/contraceptives

The data is a bit up in the air when it comes to hormones and RA.  Studies have not found a link between contraceptives and the risk of RA or the severity of disease.   A 2004 study found that women with irregular menstrual cycles do have a higher RA risk.

“The data aren’t completely clear” on this topic, Dr. Goodman says. But hormones may play a role in reducing symptoms. “There is no question that estrogen can decrease pain, so part of some of the perimenopausal flares may be caused by estrogen withdrawal.”

Cold/flu

There seems to be an anecdotal link between the flu and worsening RA symptoms. And the flu can be especially dangerous for people taking medication that weakens the immune system, which includes most of the drugs used to treat RA.

The CDC recommends flu shots for people with RA. (But not nasal-spray flu vaccines, which contain live viruses.)  One note of caution: Certain RA medications—methotrexate, prednisone, and rituximab—may lower the effectiveness of flu shots.

Arthritis Today

Shed extra pounds

If you’re overweight, losing those excess pounds may take some of the pressure off of your joints.  “If I have a patient with RA who’s overweight and loses 10 pounds, every time he takes a forceful step forward, that’s 30 pounds less on weight-bearing joints [such as the hips and knees],” says Dr. Hadler.

What’s more, it may also improve quality of life. A 2006 study found that overweight and normal weight people with RA had a higher quality of life than those who were obese.

Eat omega-3’s

Several studies suggest that people with RA may benefit from fish oil supplements, which contain inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids.   RA patients are also at greater risk of cardiovascular disease, and fish oil is thought to be good for the heart too.

However, studies suggest that you need to get 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day (a 4-ounce piece of salmon has a little over 2 grams) for 12 weeks, which could get pricey or the diet hard to maintain.

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Make it Mediterranean

In a 2003 Swedish study, people with RA who ate a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetable, cereals, legumes, and olive oil for three months experienced improved physical functioning and vitality when compared to RA patients who did not.

The effects of the Mediterranean diet on rheumatoid arthritis long-term are still unclear, but including more fruits and vegetables in your diet isn’t a bad idea.

Consider a vegetarian diet

At least one study found that people who ate a vegetarian or vegan diet reported an improvement in RA symptoms, including pain score, morning stiffness, and grip strength compared to those who didn’t.

However, because these diets are restrictive, many of the participants were unable to maintain them for the year long study period.

If you can’t give up meat, then at least try to get a few more greens on your plate. The antioxidants, such as those found in green peas, bell peppers, and broccoli, may protect against tissue damage around the joints caused by free radicals.

Check your vitamins

Some evidence suggests certain nutrients may help patients with RA. For example, some studies showed that vitamin E supplements reduce RA joint destruction and pain, while others do not.

Selenium levels are also thought to be too low in some people with RA. However, only one study has found that selenium reduced swollen joints and stiffness, and it also involved fish oil supplementation, so it’s difficult to determine if selenium can help reduce RA symptoms.

In addition, some RA patients take methotrexate to slow disease progression.  But the drug also inhibits folic acid metabolism and causes a range of side effects, including mouth sores, says Dr. Hadler. He suggests folic acid supplements to decrease these adverse effects.

Find out about allergies

Food allergies, especially to dairy and shrimp, may aggravate rheumatoid arthritis. Some people try elimination diets, which involves removing all potential allergens from the diet and slowly adding these foods back to see if they trigger symptoms.

Studies have tested whether exposing patients to foods that had previously upset their RA consistently worsened their symptoms. “You get a smidgen of a hint that food aggravates symptoms,” says Dr. Hadler.

But he explains that there’s tremendous variation within any individual’s symptoms in a given time period, making it difficult to study the effects of elimination diets.

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Blueberry Dreams

We’re looking at what we want to plant in our garden and I’m thinking blueberries!

Of course this means I’m doing the suggesting, Bestie is doing the planting and the growing and then I make wonderful things with them when they’re ripe.  (It’s all about the teamwork.)  But really, who doesn’t love them?
“Clusters of delectable fruit make Duke easy to pick. It’s the earliest blueberry to ripen, yet the blossoms not susceptible to frost damage. An attractive shrub is a good candidate for edible landscaping. Blueberry plants require pollination from at least one other blueberry variety; plant several varieties for improved fruit set and long harvest. “

Did you know…

  • Blueberries have more antioxidants than any other fresh fruit or veggie.
  • Blueberries have been shown to slow vision loss and can lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration by up to 36%
  • Not only are they low in calories but they can break down belly fat and reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome (risk factors that increase chances of developing diabetes and heart disease).
  • They’re high in manganese which is important for bone development
  • They’re high in fiber
  • Blueberries can reduce and even reverse age-related memory loss
  • The phenolic compounds can inhibit colon cancer and reduce ovarian cancer risks
  • Blueberries have a low-glycemic index and can help type 2 diabetics manage and reduce blood sugar
  • Blueberries, like cranberries, contain compounds that prevent bacteria from adhering to bladder walls, preventing urinary tract infections
  • Oh and they taste amazing!

There’s so many ways to love blueberries… pancakes, muffins, waffles… and a few others that I’m going to list here that I think you’ll enjoy.

When I was little, my mom would get blueberries and toss them with raw honey and let them sit overnight.  The honey would breakdown into a syrup.  She’d put them into a bowl by themselves or over a slice of pound cake and top them with a spoonful of sour cream.  It was her favorite dessert!

Blueberry Chai Ice Cream (Dairy Free)

Ingredients
  • 1 (14oz) can coconut milk
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 2 chai tea bags, tea removed from tea bag (discard bag)
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a saucepan and place under medium heat. Let cook down and flavors mix for about 10 minutes under some of your blueberries have exploded and you have a deep purple color.
  2. Remove from heat and let cool for 30 minutes.
  3. Place mixture in a food processor or blender and puree until blueberries are broken down.
  4. Pour mixture into ice cream maker
  5. Scoop, eat & enjoy!

A few years ago I discovered my new favorite… a crisp iceberg salad with grilled chicken, hard boiled eggs, blueberries and ranch dressing.  I’d top it then with french fried onions.  Yum!

Monte Cristo Sandwiches

This is one of my absolute favorites.  I was introduced to these when I was about 7 months pregnant and it was locked into mine and my daughter’s DNA after that.  These are easy and amazingly delicious, perfect for breakfast, lunch, brunch, whatever!

Monte Cristo

Ingredients:

  • The bread is simply French Toast.  Use your favorite bread, eggs, milk & vanilla.
  • Swiss Cheese
  • Sliced ham (I prefer a Virginia ham or Black Forest, use what you like!)
  • Powdered/Confectioners Sugar (optional)
  • Blueberry compote
  • Sour cream

Instructions:

  • Dip the bread in the egg mixture, and fry.
  • When you flip the bread over in the pan, add a slice of swiss and the ham on to one slice of the French toast.
  • When they are properly browned, add a second slice of French toast on top of the first slice to complete the sandwich.
  • Cut in half and dust with powdered sugar if desired.
  • Serve with warmed blueberry compote* and sour cream.

Compote is another name for pie filling.  You can buy canned, but fresh is so much tastier and so easy to make.

Blueberry Compote & Pie Filling

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In a saucepan combine:

  • 1-1/2 cups of blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/3 c water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice (optional)

Simmer over medium heat about 10 minutes till berries burst.  Then add:

  • 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Simmer an additional 7-8 minutes until compote coats the back  of a spoon.

Can be made up to 3 days in advance, serve warm.  Cover and refrigerate to store or portion in ice cube trays and freeze. Serve with Monte Cristo sandwiches, cheese filled crepes, ice cream, pancakes, waffles, yogurt & granola, you name it!

Other blueberry tips:

  • Freeze blueberries and put them in your glass of white wine to keep it chilled!
  • When making muffins, toss blueberries in a little flour to keep them from sinking in the batter while they bake.
  • When using frozen blueberries in a baking recipe, do not let them thaw or the juice will “bleed” into your batter.

I’ll follow up with more blueberry recipes later (I’m thinking cheesecake and those crepes in particular), but this should be enough to get your creative “juices” flowing.

{{hugs}}

Maggie

When Reading Labels, Know The Facts

Are you confused about food label claims and what they really mean? That’s part of the strategy of the global food giants, of course: confuse you with so much noise that you give up trying to make sense of it all.

That’s why I wrote this article: to demystify food label claims and give you the low-down on what they really mean. Most of these points will probably surprise you…

#1) “Kosher” does not mean non-GMO
Genetically engineered ingredients are openly allowed in Kosher-certified foods. The Kosher certification does not involve testing for GMOs, and Kosher certifications are routinely found on foods containing GMOs.

#2) “Organic” does not mean low in heavy metals
The USDA certified organic certification process does not test for heavy metals. Foods that are very high in lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury and even aluminum are openly allowed to be labeled USDA certified organic.

#3) “Non-GMO” does not mean organic
Just because a food is certified non-GMO doesn’t mean it is organic. Even conventionally-raised crops such as corn, soy and canola can be certified non-GMO if they are grown without genetically engineered seeds.
There are several snack chips on the market right now which use non-GMO ingredients grown with chemical pesticides.

#4) “All Natural” doesn’t mean anything at all
The phrase “All Natural” is not regulated in any way by the FDA. Any foods, including foods made with artificial colors, chemical sweeteners, chemical preservatives and GMOs, can be labeled “all natural.”
“All natural” is the trick used by large food corporations to try to mislead consumers into thinking their junk food products are somehow organic.

#5) “Trans-Fat Free” does not mean free from trans fats
The FDA currently allows foods containing up to 0.5g of trans fats per serving to claim ZERO grams of trans fats per serving.

The FDA, you see, has been completely hijacked by food and drug corporations, and they have convinced the FDA to allow food labels to blatantly lie to consumers about what the food really contains. Everywhere else in the world, 0.5 does not equal zero. Even in high school math class, it’s rounded up to one. But at the FDA, 0.5 somehow means zero.

#6) “Non-GMO” does not mean certified non-GMO
There are many foods, superfoods and even nutritional products currently claiming to be “non-GMO” but failing to provide any certification of that status. A company that self-proclaims its products to be “non-GMO” is most likely trying to pull a fast one on you unless it can back up that claim with certification.
Only certified non-GMO means something. The next time you see a label that claims “non-GMO,” ask yourself, “Certified by whom?” “Where’s the proof?”

#7) “Gluten-free” foods are often GMO
Beware of GMOs in gluten-free foods. Because gluten-free foods are often based on corn, they are usually made with genetically modified corn containing BT toxin, a deadly insecticide.
Avoid gluten-free unless it’s also certified non-GMO.

#8) “Organic” foods can still contain a small amount of GMO
GMOs are so widespread that they have now contaminated virtually the entire food supply. Foods that are certified organic can still contain trace levels of GMOs.

How much are they allowed to contain? “there aren’t specific tolerance levels in the USDA organic regulations for GMOs,” says the USDA. “National Organic Program policy states that trace amounts of GMOs don’t automatically mean the farm is in violation of the USDA organic regulations. In these cases, the certifying agent will investigate how the inadvertent presence occurred and recommend how it can be better prevented in the future. For example, they may require a larger buffer zone or more thorough cleaning of a shared grain mill.”

Even though certified organic foods can still contain trace levels of GMOs, they are still far healthier for you than conventionally-grown foods, by the way.

#9) “Organic” foods are now being routinely grown in heavily polluted countries such as China
An increasing percentage of “organic” foods, superfoods and raw materials used in nutritional supplements are being imported from China. Natural News has found that these raw materials are consistently higher in heavy metals than competing products grown in North America.

But because they are significantly lower in case, they are being increasingly used in nutritional products or sold at health food stores after being labeled “organic.”

Organic certification standards openly allow organic farms in China to grow produce in fields that are heavily polluted with cadmium, lead and mercury. There is no limit on the heavy metals levels in soils used to produce USDA certified organic foods.

#10) The FDA currently has no limit on the amount of heavy metals allowed in foods, either
The FDA does, from time to time, conduct food contaminant tests on imported foods. However, the FDA does not publish or set any official limits on heavy metals in imported foods.

Usually, when the FDA does find metals in foods (such as arsenic in rice), it declares the contaminant “too low to cause short-term health risks” while blatantly ignoring the long-term health risks.

As long as the food is dead and not carrying e.coli or salmonella, there is almost no food too polluted for the FDA.

#11) The use of “organic” ingredients does not automatically make the whole product organic
Some products sold today are being described as “organic” when only a fraction of their ingredients are organic. This does not qualify a product to be called organic.

Unlike the phrase, “all natural,” the term “organic” is highly regulated by the federal government and carries a specific meaning. The mere presence of organic ingredients in a product is not sufficient to be able to claim the entire product is organic.

Interestingly, even if ALL the ingredients used in a product are certified organic, the product itself still needs to be separately certified to be accurately called “organic.”

By the way, sometimes the cleanest product in a particular category is not the one that’s certified organic, as we discovered in our heavy metals tests of chlorella superfoods.

#12) “Low calorie” almost always means it is sweetened with a chemical sweetener
Look on the ingredients labels of “low calorie” foods or beverages, and you’ll almost always find sucralose, acesulfame potassium, saccharin, aspartame or other chemical sweeteners. The presence of such chemical sweeteners is almost ubiquitous on foods sporting the “low calorie” label.

And yet “low calorie” does not mean it’s healthier for you in any way whatsoever. In fact, low-calorie foods such as diet sodas can still contain extremely damaging ingredients such as phosphoric acid, a potent chemical that can eat away your teeth and bones.

What is the ultimate food, then?The ultimate commercially-available food would be certified organic, certified non-GMO, grown in your local country, certified Kosher and lab tested to be very low in heavy metals

But if you just grow it in your own garden, you don’t need all those labels and certifications in the first place. You’ve got real food right from your own yard.

That’s why I encourage everyone to grow what you eat and eat what you grow. The answer to pollutants, GMOs, pesticides and heavy metals in foods is found when you get on your knees and put some seeds in the ground.

Everything else in the marketplace — including quadruple-certified premium food — is vastly inferior to food you grow yourself.

How do you know you can trust me on this point? Because I sell superfoods and I’m still telling you to grow your own instead. In my vision of a perfect world, the Natural News Store wouldn’t even exist because everybody would be growing their own foods and superfoods in their own yards or greenhouses.

Source: Natural News