Thursday, December 24, 2009

Conscience-Friendly Christmas Delights: Part II


Merry Christmas!!!!

My gift to you... is the recipe for those chocolate cookies pictured above! They are quick, so you can still make them now for your gathering tonight or tomorrow!

Carob Coconut Truffles:

1 cup virgin coconut oil
1 cup roasted carob powder
1/2 cup Medjool dates (I used dried apricots and prunes)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup water
1 cup almond meal (almonds ground in a coffee grinder)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup quinoa flakes
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt

Melt coconut oil. Combine with carob in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Set aside. In a high speed blender, blend dried fruit and water until it becomes a smooth syrup. Add dried fruit syrup to carob mixture. Stir in vanilla and salt. Add almond meal and remaining ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Using your hands or a small cookie scoop, make walnut-sized balls. Refridgerate for an hour before serving. (Or... if you can't wait... put them in the freezer. They don't freeze solid, so you can even keep them in the freezer to have them on hand).

Monday, December 14, 2009

Conscience-Friendly Christmas Delights: Part I


Christmas Eve is 10 days away! Now the crunch time is on... Christmas baking, Christmas shopping, Christmas programs, Christmas cards, Christmas letters... Christmas PARTIES. There are so many tempting cookies, candies, Christmas drinks, pastries...  And then there are those great Hallmark Christmas movies, where everyone seems to be making delicious sweets and goodies. Who can resist such a heavenly aroma? How can a person survive this time of year without the pounds of butter in those cookies adding pounds on the bathroom scale? After all, Christmas cookies and such are simply part of our Christmas tradition. I guess the January resolutions and weight-loss programs are also part of the tradition! (wink)

This time of the year, people gather for all kinds of parties and family get-togethers. There is generally so much food around, it's difficult to resist! And if you're the host, you'll have left-overs to tempt you for perhaps weeks ahead. We all know that the staples of Christmas baking (white flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, butter, peanut butter, vegetable oil, etc) are not good for us. Is there a way to have some special foods this time of year without sabotaging our health at the same time? Definitely. Here are some simple ideas:

Appetizers:
Crudites! This is simply raw vegetables. Arrange sliced vegetables of a variety of colors on a beautiful platter. Broccoli, Cauliflower, Celery, and Red Bell Pepper make for a festive Christmas display. A delicious dip is the following:

Creamy Basil Brazil Nut Dip:

2 cups Brazil nuts, soaked overnight
1/8 cup lemon juice
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup water (or as needed to thin)

Add the brazil nuts (discard soaking water), lemon juice, garlic, basil, and salt to a high speed blender, adding water as needed, and blend until smooth. Adjust consistency as desired. (It will thicken once refrigerated). Serve with mixed raw vegetables.

Fresh and Dried Fruit & Nut Arrangement: This can be a beautiful tray. You may want to put the nuts and dried fruits or any especially juicing fresh fruits in smaller bowls on the tray to prevent anything from going soggy. Decorate with greenery, like fresh rosemary. Here are some ideas:

Dried fruits: cherries, white figs, medjool dates, mango, prunes

Fresh fruits: kiwi slices, apple slices (cut horizontally, so that you see the star in the middle) dipped in orange juice (to prevent browning), a small bowl of pomegranate seeds with a spoon, clementine oranges, pineapple chunks
Nuts: whole pecans walnuts, almonds, pistachios (not dyed), hazelnuts-- whatever you most enjoy.

Fruit Bowl: Pile it high with small apples, clementine oranges, baby bananas, and green pears. A centerpiece and healthy snacking all in one!

Pomegranate Punch: A beautiful ruby red festive Christmas beverage, garnished with orange and lemon sunbursts:

Pomegranate Punch
1 organic orange, unpeeled
1 organic lemon, unpeeled
1 bottle (2 liters) seltzer water, chilled
1 1/2 cups unsweetened 100% pomegranate juice
Sweetener (optional): raw honey or organic maple syrup to taste, some stevia, or a combination

Remove ends from orange and lemon and then cut four slices from each fruit. Combine seltzer, juice, and orange and lemon slices in a pretty pitcher or punch bowl.

What are those truffle-like cookies in the picture, you ask? Stay tuned... I'll tell you how to make them in an upcoming post!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

10 Easy Ways to Stay Thinner and Healthier Through the Christmas Season


Well, it's December, and we are only a couple of weeks away from Christmas!

What an exciting time of year! There's so much preparation that goes into these few weeks before Christmas, be it sending out Christmas cards, shopping for gifts, and oh, the food preparation! Cookies, fudge, candy, galore! It's kind of interesting how we spend lots of time shopping for special ingredients and making all kinds of delectable treats, and then eating with no thought to tomorrow or our long term health. Then, come January 1st, we make all kinds of new resolutions for solving the problem we created over Christmas: e.g. eating better, exercising more, etc. Is it possible to delight in some of the delicious food this season has to offer without having to make some major resolutions when we hit the new year?

I think so! Here are a few tips for participating in all the munching that goes on at Christmas parties and gatherings in the weeks ahead:

1. Drink... plenty of water! That will help to keep you from over-doing it when you get into the line for food.

2. Avoid/Limit... the SWEETS, especially made with white or brown sugar. Do what you can with less refined, more natural, sweeteners: dried fruits, honey, maple syrup, molasses, sucanat/rapadura (unrefined cane sugar). However, even these ought to be used sparingly. It's better to stick to whole foods.


3. Indulge... in lots of negative calorie foods. These are foods that require more energy (calories) to digest than they contain in themselves.
  • Watch vegetable trays for: broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, radishes
  • At a restaurant dinner, order a salad.
  • For breakfast, have a grapefruit or a fruit salad of apples, mangoes, oranges, and pineapple
  • Try frozen berries, especially in a green smoothie.
You'll notice all these things are high in fiber. So, whenever you can choose foods higher in fiber, you will help yourself to maintain (or help shrink) your waistline.

4. Enjoy... the natural whole food delights of the season: fresh pomegranates, oranges, apples, pears.


5. Be FESTIVE... with salads! Just another way to EAT those GREENS! Here's a recipe (more or less) for the festive salad pictured below, full of seasonal flavors:

Orange Spice Spinach Salad (all organic)
for One

Salad mix:
3 cups spinach
1 small apple, chopped
dried cherries and/or cranberries
unsulfured dried apricots, sliced
walnuts

Dressing:
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp orange zest
1/4 tsp nutmeg
salt to taste

Mix dressing ingredients together. Combine spinach and chopped apples, and toss with dressing. Arrange in bowl and top with dried fruit and nuts. *Tip: Another good addition would be clementine orange sections.

6. Create... eats and treats with coconut oil! Coconut oil helps to speed up the metabolism and aid in weight loss. You can learn all about the benefits of coconut oil at http://www.coconutresearchcenter.org/. Some of the ways I enjoy using it are the following:
  • Fruit Smoothies with the addition of 1-2 Tbsp of melted coconut oil blended in.
  • Coconut oil instead of olive oil on a salad.
  • Steamed sweet potatoes with coconut oil (instead of butter) and sea salt, as a side dish.
  • Steamed broccoli or cauliflower... "        "as a side dish.
  • Organic poporn popped in coconut oil, with sea salt.
  • "Mounds" candy bars from the Nourishing Gourmet or Coconut Bark-Almond Joy at Real Food Living
A good resource for recipes is Eat Fat, Lose Fat: Lose Weight and Feel Great With the Delicious, Science-based Coconut Diet, by Mary Enig and Sally Fallon.

7. Stop eating at 6:00... on most occasions.  This simple rule will help to keep you from packing on the pounds. To help conquer cravings... have some herbal tea. Licorice and Peppermint are especially nice this time of year. For something more substantial, try some rooibos tea, which is more full-bodied.

8. Spike your drink... (that is, your water) with apple cider vinegar. This can help curb cravings and also help to break down body fat. Add a couple teaspoons to your water bottle and sip throughout the day. It will help keep your blood sugar level.

9. Don't stress it... Stress messes with your hormones, which can contribute to weight gain. Remember what Christmas is really about

10. Play... that is, exercise! Go play in the snow! Make snow angels, meet friends for an afternoon of ice skating, go cross country skiing, build a snow man, go sledding, try snowshoeing, go for a hike in the woods! Join the kids for some old fashioned fun in the snow. Have FUN!!!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Fresh Food in the Off-Season


Well, Thanksgiving is over, and we are now beginning the seasons of Advent and Christmas... and for some of us, it's going to start getting COLD quickly. Hello, winter! So, during these long months of winter coming up, how does one continue to eat plenty of salads with health-promoting raw fruits and vegetables while the grocery store produce is not at its peak? Well, here are a few ideas:

  • Greens are ALWAYS available, so don't think you're off the hook because the garden is buried under snow! ;)
  • Try sun dried tomatoes! We dry our own in the dehydrator when we have a garden bounty, and then stick them in the freezer. As you can see, they keep their lovely red color too! If you buy some at the grocery store and they are super hard, try pouring some hot water over them and letting them soak until softened. They are an excellent topping for a salad.
  • Frozen peas... Pour hot water over them and let them sit a couple of minutes until thawed. You don't even have to turn on the stove! Add to a salad, or serve on the side. Talk about FAST FOOD!
  • Root vegetables are in season! Get some carrots or try beets! Try slicing them thinly or grating them to add to salads.
  • Broccoli and Cauliflower: raw on your salad, or try lightly steaming them and then adding some coconut oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. It seriously tastes like butter, but dairy-free and with all the health benefits of coconut oil. An excellent side dish too.
  • Grow your own sprouts: I like sprouted lentils and adzuki beans. Alfalfa sprouts and mung bean sprouts are easy to find ready to go at the grocery store. Just rinse them first to avoid the possibility of mold contamination.
  • Seasonal fruits: Experiment with chopped apples or pears, pomegranate seeds, grapes, kiwis, or citrus fruits. Chopped dried fruits are a nice addition too. Ever tried dried peaches or pineapple?
How do you get raw food in your diet in the winter? What are your favorite salad toppings?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Deuteronomy 8 Thanksgiving Salad



Happy Thanksgiving! Okay, so it's a couple days late, but surely some of you out there are still eating leftover turkey and cranberries! ;) In the spirit of feasting... I thought I'd share a rather special salad with you, a salad with a story to tell about that for which I have the most to be thankful.

I actually came up with this salad combination a week or so ago, just because it seemed to be a good combination of flavors to complement the fresh pomegranate I had. But at our Thanksgiving service Wednesday evening, I was inspired by the meaning behind this combination...

You see, this is the Old Testament text that was read:

Deuteronomy 8:1-10 (NIV)
Do Not Forget the LORD
1 Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers. 2 Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. 4 Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. 5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.
6 Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and revering him. 7 For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills; 8 a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; 9 a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.
10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.

This text really struck a chord with me. After all, It's been since 2006 that I've been dealing with these health issues... sort of wandering around in the wilderness of conventional treatments and natural health... unsure where to turn for healing. At times I was literally starving to death as my body rejected food. However, all along God has continued to take care of me, keeping me fed, clothed, and sheltered. At least for me it's only been about 4 years, rather than 40. Now I am on a raw vegan diet (eating lots of things like figs and pomegranates and grapes), and under the care of a doctor who is a descendent of Israelites. I think that's pretty neat. This diet seems to be the best to keep me healthy, and I'm so thankful to finally have some answers, and to be on the right road to health.

So anyway.... back to the salad. It occurred to me while listening to the OT reading, that I had pretty much made a salad out of the foods that were listed there-- at least the ones I can eat. Since I can't have wheat, barley, or honey due to food sensitivities, those were out. However, if you were to include the wheat and/or barley in the form of croutons, you would have a salad that tells quite a story. Here's the (more or less) recipe, and then I'll explain:

Deuteronomy 8 Thanksgiving Salad

Salad ingredients:
Mixed baby greens/spring herb mix
dried figs, sliced lengthwise
fresh pomegranate seeds from about 1/2 pomegranate
red grapes, sliced lengthwise
wheat/barley bread croutons

Dressing ingredients:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp Herbes de Provence
honey to taste
sea salt to taste

First, mix the dressing ingredients and adjust to taste. Then, mix the salad ingredients (minus the croutons) together in a bowl other than the serving bowl, reserving a small amount of each to arrange on top of the finished salad. Toss the salad ingredients with the dressing to coat. Empty mixed salad into a pretty serving bowl. Arrange the reserved ingredients artistically on top, now including the croutons. Serve, and reflect on the following:

The FIGS remind us of the Garden of Eden: the beautiful world God created, and all his creatures. God created man in his own image, both male and female: Adam & Eve. Mankind fell into sin by disobeying God, and covered their nakedness with fig leaves.

The WHEAT reminds us of Bethlehem, the Hebrew "house of bread." There, God sent His Only Son into the world as a tiny baby to live a perfect life and suffer the consequences of man's sin by dying a terrible and cursed death on the Cross. We are also reminded that Christ is the Bread of Life, and that He gives His Body to us in the form of Bread in Holy Communion.

The BARLEY reminds us of the five barley loaves (John 6) given to feed the 5,000. It reminds us that God provides for our daily needs: "Give us this day our daily bread."

The OLIVE oil reminds us of the Garden of Gethsemene on the Mount of Olives, where Jesus was delivered into the hands of those who would nail Him to the Cross.

The POMEGRANATE has traditionally been a symbol of the resurrection. It reminds us not only that Christ rose from the dead, showing us that His death was indeed accepted by God the Father as the full payment for our sins, but also that we too shall rise, and live forever in heaven if our faith and trust are in Christ.

The HONEY reminds us of God's promises: He has given us His Holy Word, especially the Gospel, which is "sweeter than honey" (Psalm 19, 119; Ezekiel 3, Rev. 10) and has promised to ultimately bring us to "a land flowing with milk and honey" in Heaven.

The GRAPES (fruit of the vine) reminds us of the Feast in Heaven and the way in which Christ is now present with us in the Wine of Holy Communion.

The Story of Salvation. Now THAT's something to be Thankful for! Thanks be to God for sending Christ to pay our debt and invite us to the greatest Thanksgiving Feast of all in Heaven!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Conventional Wisdom on Organic Food


Thanksgiving is almost upon us! Since food is a major focus of the week, I thought I'd share some thoughts on eating organically. There are many reasons to consume organically grown food. From what I've read, the main reasons can fit into these categories:

1. Better for your health
2. Better for the environment
3. Better flavor
4. Supportive of small family-owned businesses

Those are reason enough for me! If you'd like the details on those tenets, I commend to you the articles listed at the end of this post.

How do you make sure you are picking the right produce? The PLU# can be quite helpful:

  • Conventionally grown produce has a four digit PLU, generally beginning with a 4.
  • ORGANICALLY grown produce has a five digit PLU, beginning with a 9.
  • Genetically modified produce (GMOs) has a five digit PLU, beginning with an 8.
So...
  • First Choice = 9_ _ _ _
  • Second Choice = 4_ _ _
  • Don't eat 8_ _ _ _!!!
Is it necessary to buy organic 100% of the time? Well... it would be IDEAL. But---Sometimes it's just impossible to get certain items organic, and one must either forego the item or simply buy conventional. Sometimes one might also like to save a few $$$ on food items less likely to have a high pesticide residue. In these cases, it's nice to know which things in the produce department one can get by with buying conventional.

Fortunately, the Environmental Working Group has put together a list of fruits and vegetables they tested for pesticide residues and ranked 47 different foods according to the pesticide levels found. The "Dirty Dozen" --the ones to always buy organic-- are the following:
  1. (worst) peaches
  2. apples
  3. sweet bell peppers
  4. celery
  5. nectarines
  6. strawberries
  7. cherries
  8. kale
  9. lettuce
  10. grapes --imported
  11. carrots
  12. pears
The "Clean Fifteen," as they call them, are the following:
  1. (best) onions
  2. avocados
  3. sweet corn
  4. pineapple
  5. mango
  6. asparagus
  7. sweet peas
  8. kiwi
  9. cabbage
  10. eggplant
  11. papaya
  12. watermelon
  13. broccoli
  14. tomato
  15. sweet potato
You can see the full list here, or download a free shopper's guide for your wallet or iphone. You can even donate to the EWG and receive a magnet reminder for your refrigerator.
HOWEVER... keep in mind the following:
  • most corn is genetically modified to produce some of its own "natural" pesticide or herbicides, and you NEVER want to consume GMOs (genetically-modified organisms) if you can help it. We don't even know the long-term implications of such a practice. (Check the PLU). Corn is really not a highly recommended vegetable/grain anyway. And even the "clean" organic version is easily cross-contaminated by GMO varieties. I'd limit your corn intake to some occasional organic popcorn.
  • Imported pineapple is one to look out for, as it can be heavily sprayed, and/or gassed to ripen.
  • Papaya from Hawaii is usually genetically modified. (Check the PLU)
  • Tomatoes can be GMOs (Check the PLU) and are often gassed to ripen them.
I didn't even mention buying organically raised, grass-fed meats, raw (unpasteurized, unhomogenized) grass-fed dairy, and eggs from free-range chickens. That is a GIVEN if you eat animal foods. Since I'm on a raw vegan diet, and have begun to see the advantages of eating this way, I have focused on fruits and vegetables. Whole grains, mushrooms, nuts & seeds, etc. would follow the same rules. Always buy organic whenever possible to minimize your intake of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc., and ALWAYS buy whole foods; NEVER processed devitalized foods. The closer to the way God gave us these foods in nature, the better.

SO... Why Buy Organic??? Here are some resources for you:
Top Six Reasons to Eat Only Organic Fruits and Vegetables
Organic Foods Provide More than Health Benefits
Buying Organic is Well Worth the Cost even When Times are Tough

I'll include one more in the next post...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

It's Easy... Eating Greens


"Ewwwwwww! GREEN stuff!" Why do people (okay, mostly children) tend to respond this way to God's most nutritious gastronomic gifts? I mean, it's not like you have to sit down to a plate of plain, dry spinach, and eat it a leaf at a time. And although a good parent will insist on children eating their green vegetables, I can't say that I see a lot of adults craving collard greens over coffee break or slurping a spinach green smoothie as a Saturday afternoon snack. Let's face it: we all need some encouragement and inspiration to get our daily dish of greens.
Getting your daily ration of green leafy vegetables does not necessarily mean subsisting on "rabbit food," munching on plain salads three meals a day, although I am a big fan of salads. There are all kinds of options-- delicious too!
  • Green Smoothies: A great start for the day! Green Smoothies are an excellent and satisfying breakfast. See an earlier post devoted entirely to the subject of Green Smoothies: how to make them, and their health benefits.
  • Salads: Think they're boring? The possibilities are endless!!!! ~Time to get CREATIVE!!!
Here are some ideas for adding variety to your salads:
  1. A Variety of Greens: mixed baby greens, romaine lettuce, green leaf lettuce, red leaf lettuce, arugula, swiss chard, bok choy, mache, endive, escarole, collard greens, curly kale, dinosaur kale, purple kale, spinach, foraged greens... whatever you can get your hands on! Really try to buy organic greens. They are lower in, if not devoid of, pesticides and other toxins, and higher in nutrients. You get more "bang for your buck."
  2. Vegetables of all Kinds: carrots (shredded, coins, matchsticks, etc), beets, broccoli, cauliflower, radish, zucchini or yellow summer squash (use a vegetable peeler or even a large-holed cheese grater to make noodles!), onions (white, red, yellow, scallions, chives, shallots, leeks), garlic, asparagus, celery, green peas, roasted butternut squash... whatever is available and delicious!
  3. Vegetable-like Fruits: tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, avocados.
  4. Fresh Fruits: apples, pears, plums, peaches, berries, kiwis, oranges, pomegranate seeds, star fruit, persimmons... whatever is ripe and in season!
  5. Dried Fruits: dried pineapple, dates, dried figs, dried apricots, craisins,
    raisins, dried peaches, prunes, dried mango, dessicated coconut... whatever you can find that isn't sweetened with sugar or fructose, and that is unsulfured.
  6. Mushrooms of all Kinds: lightly sauteed in olive oil or marinaded.
  7. Sprouts of all Kinds: Try bean sprouts (lentil sprouts, chickpea sprouts,
    adzuki bean sprouts, mung bean sprouts), seed sprouts (sunflower
    seeds, clover, broccoli seed, radish seed), or grain-like seed sprouts (buckwheat, quinoa). That's only a small sampling of what's available. Learn more, including how to grow your own sprouts, at http://www.sproutpeople.com/.
  8. Herbs: "parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme"... or cilantro, basil, oregano
  9. Nuts and Seeds: especially soaked and sprouted and then dried in the dehydrator to make them nice and crispy. See the "how-to" here: Crispy Nuts. Try almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans, macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, or ground flax seed.
  10. Dressings: try different combinations of oils (olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil), vinegars (balsamic, red wine, white wine, apple cider, raspberry, herb), citrus juices (lemon, orange, grapefruit), blended avocado, soaked and blended nuts, tahini, and other additions such as herbs, chopped shallots, and citrus zest. (Celtic sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste).
  11. Other Interesting Additions: Dehydrated sweet potato or beet "chips," a dollop of guacamole, hummus, pesto, or fresh salsa.
  • Green Leaf Wraps: Use cabbage (green or red) leaves, collard leaves, or butter lettuce leaves for excellent "low-carb," gluten-free, grain-free wraps! Fill as you would any wrap, maybe some tomato, avocado, sprouts, yellow peppers, cucumbers, and fresh basil!
  • Steamed Greens: Kale, collard greens, chard, bok choy, spinach, cabbage, beet greens, turnip greens, mustard greens... even broccoli and their greens. Add a drizzle of olive oil or coconut oil, plus salt and pepper to taste.
  • Egg Dishes: If you eat eggs, try adding greens to scrambled eggs, quiches, or omelets. Spinach, chard, mache, broccoli, parsley, basil, and rosemary are excellent additions. Sauteed greens alongside poached eggs are an elegant pairing.
SEE??? It's Easy... Eating your Greens!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hot Beverages for Cold Days


As we are phasing out of fall and drifting into winter, there's a definite need for beverages that warm us from the inside out. However, not all the options out there promote good health. You know which ones I mean... Hot Cocoa with marshmallows, Coffee, Tang, any powder in a packet that says "just add hot water." The main things to avoid in these things are 1) artifical colors and flavors and other additives, 2) Sugar, 3) Caffeine, 4) Pasteurized, homogenized Dairy products with their added hormones and antibiotics.

Hopefully I don't have to explain the reasons why we wouldn't want artifical colors and flavors and other chemicals in our food. Sugar and Caffeine each warrant their own post. Suffice it to say for now that both suppress the immune system, tax the adrenal glands, and lead the body into an acidic state, which opens it up to all kinds of illness and disease.

There. Now, don't get all distressed about not being able to enjoy these common comforting "cuppa"s. There are all kinds of delicious alternatives that not only don't do damage, but do promote good health and well-being:
Herbal tea: Herbal teas contain no caffeine and are very satisfying, comforting beverages. These are a few of my favorites (I recommend organic):
  • Peppermint (soothes the stomach and promotes relaxation and calm)
  • Licorice (excellent for your poor, overworked, underpaid, adrenal glands)
  • Chamomile (also soothes the stomach and relieves anxiety)
To "spice" things up a bit, try the recipe for a soothing peppermint tea-based chai on Elana's Pantry.com: Soothing Chai.

Herbal "coffee": Herbal coffees are made up of a combination of roasted roots, grains, and dried fruit like dates and figs. They may not taste exactly like the real thing, but they are caffeine-free and definitely give the same impression as coffee. You can even add some coconut milk for a vegan "cream." I think the following ones are especially delicious.
  • Mountain Rose Herbs Herbal Coffee: (Gluten-free!) Comprised of roasted Dandelion root, Chicory root, roasted Carob, and Maca powder. 100% organic too.
  • Teeccino: Comes in all kinds of flavors. Comprised of things like roasted barley, dates, figs, carob... depends on the flavor. I like Mocha, but there are so many I have yet to try! Check out their website: http://www.teeccino.com/. It has all kinds of information about why you should switch from caf or decaf to "no-caf." If you sign up for their newsletter, you'll get a free sample in the mail, plus a coupon for $1 off your first purchase!
Rooibos: Rooibos is an African red tea. It is very high in antioxidants, AND it's caffeine-free!!!According to Mountain Rose Herbs' website, it's also high in Vitamin C, Calcium, Potassium, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc, Sodium, Copper, and Manganese. --Not bad for a soothing evening treat. It comes in all different varieties-- sometimes as a blend, sometimes with spices added. I especially like my loose-leaf vanilla rooibos. For a Thai-style hot tea, try a plain version with some coconut milk and maple syrup to taste. AMAZING:

1 bag Rooibos tea
1/8 cup coconut milk
1-2 Tbsp maple syrup

Steep tea first for 3-5 minutes. Then add coconut milk and maple syrup as directed, or to taste. Enjoy!!! (Serves 1)
Hot Lemonade: Originally from the book The Master Cleanser, by Stanley Burroughs. The recipe I have actually calls it "German Warfare," and basically says it'll cure what ails you. I drank cups of it when I had a sore throat, and found it to be both soothing and effective. Here's the recipe for one serving:

2 Tablespoons of organic lemon Juice (about 1/2 a Lemon)
2 Tablespoons of Organic grade B maple syrup
1/10 Teaspoon Cayenne pepper powder
Ten ounces of filtered water
Combine first three ingredients. Then, I add hot water to make a tea. It is so soothing and satisfying-- especially if you have some kind of cold. If you want more information about the benefits of this combination, check out the book: The Master Cleanser. It's not a huge investment: about $6.

Pumpkin Latte: The blog "The Nourishing Gourmet" has an excellent recipe here. It's dairy-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, and caffeine-free! Why go to Starbucks or Caribou Coffee when you can make a healthier and less expensive version at home?

Russian Tea: The Whole Foods Market recipe collection has a great healthy version of a childhood favorite, Tang.

Blackstrap Molasses Tea: Organic Blackstrap Molasses is really some kind of superfood. It's really high in minerals and has been said to reverse graying hair! Why not give it a try? If it works, let me know!

1 Tbsp, or so organic blackstrap molasses (to taste)
8-10 oz hot water
Coconut milk (as cream)

Serves One. Also: blackstrap molasses goes really well added to your herbal coffee. It has a nice subtle sweetness. If you want it sweeter, add some honey to taste.

Warm Coconut Milk Egg Nog: Okay, so this is really supposed to be chilled in the refrigerator for an hour or two, but... I couldn't wait! ;o) Turns out, it's especially good while it's still hot~! Yum...

2 egg yolks (from free-range chickens)
1 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Heat, but do not boil, coconut milk and honey. Beat egg yolks and vanilla in a small bowl. Add half the milk mixture to the egg yolks and stir. Add back into coconut milk and stir. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and will coat the back of a spoon. Add the spices, and cool until... it doesn't burn your mouth. Pour in dainty little glass punch cups (or whatever you have), and sprinkle with nutmeg. Enjoy!

And of course there are infinite varieties of Spiced Hot Apple Cider. A word of warning though: conventionally-grown apples have one of the highest rates of pesticide residues. Buy ORGANIC.

Enjoy these hot beverages for the cold days ahead. Do you have any to add? Let me know if you give one a try!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

It's November!


Let the feasting begin!

 ...And look out for all those rich foods and junk foods coming your way!

It seems as though the trick-or-treat candy of Halloween marks the beginning of a season full of candies, rich foods, and baked goods. The fresh produce of summer and harvest time seems to fade into oblivion while rich meats and sugary treats take center stage. And it takes a toll on our health and well-being too. I do rather wonder if there's any connection between the increase in colds and flu as winter approaches and the increase in these less than ideal culinary indulgences...?

Here are a few ideas for HEALTHY SWAPS this upcoming holiday season:

Instead of: heavy, fattening stuffing or dressing...
Why not try: a lovely wild rice pilaf? (onions, pecans, parsley, dried apricots?) You can even add the additions after cooking the wild rice on its own. OR... you can sprout the wild rice and create an all raw dish!

 Instead of: adding butter and brown sugar to steamed squash...
Why not try: coconut oil (which aids in weight loss) and raw honey or organic maple syrup, plus some spices like cinnamon (stablizes blood sugar) and nutmeg?
Instead of: a creamed vegetable side dish...
Why not try: a crisp salad of romaine lettuce, fresh pears and/or apples, raw nuts, and dried cranberries, with a homemade vinaigrette?

Instead of: coffee with cream and sugar...
Why not try: caffeine-free rooibos (red) tea with coconut milk and organic maple syrup?

 Instead of: gooey sugary caramels...
Why not try: naturally sweet and chewy Medjool dates?

Instead of: the traditional baked apple pie...
Why not try: a raw version with nuts and fresh fruit?
What kind of healthy food options do you have in mind for these upcoming weeks as we approach Thanksgiving?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pear, Walnut, and Sprout Green Salad


I had this delicious salad the other day, and just thought I'd share it with you. This salad features collard greens, which I think are not commonly thought of as a raw salad green. Collard leaves look like large flat fans. Their leaves have a bit of a waxy feel to them. The best way to make them into a raw salad is to cut out their stems, stack them up, roll them up, and use a chef's knife to cut across the roll, making 1/2-inch (or so) long ribbons! Then, put into a medium bowl with sea salt and an oil and vinegar dressing, and massage with your hands. That helps to break down the fibers to give the collards more of the feel of cooked greens. Arrange artistically in a salad bowl or plate. Then, top with remaining ingredients.

Here's the recipe (serves one hungry person for a main dish):
4 collard leaves
1/2 red bartlett pear
1/2 cup of lentil sprouts (or other sprouts)
1/4 cup of apple juice-sweetened dried cranberries
1/4 cup of raw walnuts
sea salt to taste

Dressing: I used a recipe from The Body Ecology diet. Basically, you could make one of apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and mustard. Follow directions as given above.

This is an excellent salad for fall... featuring many fall crops: pears, cranberries, walnuts. The lentil sprouts are another story-- perhaps another post. Sprouts are a great way to make it through the winter without the wide variety of produce. The are super-high in Vitamin C, B-vitamins, and.... well, I'll save that for another post. :)

Here's the salad 3/4 of the way through. Plan a good amount of time to eat... there's a lot of chewing involved! Bon Appetit!




Friday, October 16, 2009

Autumn Apple GREEN Smoothie


So, I'm on this salad and green smoothie diet for another six weeks or so: Green smoothie for breakfast, salad for lunch, green smoothie for dinner. So far, I've been doing this for about a month and have therefore consumed 66 GREEN SMOOTHIES!!! If I'm going to pull this off for another 6 weeks, it's definitely time to get creative!

Today was a rather blustery, chilly, fall day here in northern Minnesota. On a day such as this, one craves something like spiced apple cider. But-- green smoothies are the thing right now. Besides, green smoothies are cleansing, revitalizing, and promote excellent health and energy. ~A wonderful way to get more GREENS in one's diet.

Here's a delicious way to get more GREENS in YOUR diet!

Spiced Apple Green Smoothie

8 oz (or so) of apple juice
1/2 a frozen pear (fresh works too)
a big handful of red leaf lettuce or mixed baby greens
1 tsp vanilla
Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg to taste

If you're using a pear out of the freezer, let it sit in the blender with the apple juice to thaw it a bit. Add the greens and spices and blend. Add the spices to taste and blend until smoothie. Pour into a glass, sprinkle some nutmeg on top, and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Delicious Early Fall Snack: FIGS!





Ever tried a fresh fig? I hadn't until just a couple months ago. Wow... what a great experience! Go find some while it's still FIG SEASON! :) It's almost over!

Figs have been part of the culinary scene for a very long time. We can be sure they were a frequent treat in the Garden of Eden, as the noted presence of their leaves (Genesis 3:7) makes quite likely. They can be used in all kinds of different ways... in salads, as a sauce, on a pizza, in ice cream... I like them best like this:


Doesn't it look delicious?! YUM.

There are a few different kinds of figs that are usually available in our grocery stores (if you, like me, do not live in "fig country"). The kind pictured is called a Brown Turkey fig. Other common varieties are the dark-colored Black Mission, and greenish hued Kadota, Calimyrna, and Adriatic. Each has its own unique flavor, some sweeter, others less so.

According to the World's Healthiest Foods website, figs are a good source of:
  • Antioxidants
  • Dietary fiber
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Manganese
  • Their leaves have also been used to treat diabetes, cancer, and conditions of high triglycerides.
Their season is June through early October... so get some while you can! (If you do miss out though, dried figs are also delicious).
Here are some ways to use fresh and dried figs:
  • Fresh Fig and Rose Smoothie: http://chocolateandzucchini.com/archives/2008/07/fresh_fig_and_rose_smoothie.php (Add some red lettuce to make it more nutritious, without spoiling the color with greens)
  • Fruit Salad of fresh figs, grapes, and kiwi
  • A HUGE salad of leafy greens (mixed spring greens or fresh herb salad) + grapefruit sections + dried figs (cut in halves or quarters) + pecans + dressing of olive oil, grapefruit juice, honey, sea salt
  • Add dried figs to your favorite homemade granola recipe
  • Stir dried figs into your breakfast porridge
  • Eat a fresh fig like an apple and savor the flavor...
  • Take a dried fig in one hand and some good organic dark chocolate in the other. Nibble some fig, then chocolate, then fig, then chocolate. Get more figs and chocolate. Continue. ;)
How about you? Have you had fresh or dried figs? How do you most enjoy them? Any ideas or recipes to share?

Friday, October 2, 2009

"Go Green"... with Green Smoothies


Just about everyone knows they *should* include more green leafy vegetables in their diet. However, those are just the foods at which children tend to turn up their little noses. It took Popeye the Sailor Man half a century ago, to encourage the eating of spinach. After all, he knew it would help build strong muscles and give him lots of energy. It's true! (Although canned spinach hardly compares to fresh, raw greens). Green leafy vegetables, including spinach, chard, kale, collard greens, mustard greens and the like are full of important nutrients:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamins A, D, E, and K
  • Fiber
  • Cancer-fighting compounds
  • Vitamin K, Calcium, and Magnesium, which help strengthen bones
  • Heart-protective nutrients
  • Anti-inflammatory agents
  • Protective nutrients for eyesight
  • Vitamins to improve cognitive function
  • Iron for energy
  • B Vitamins for energy and the ability to deal with stress
  • Manganese to help balance blood sugar, activate enzymes, and improve thyroid function
  • Trace minerals, which most Americans seem to be deficient in these days
These a truly "super-foods!" With all those benefits available to us, why should we skimp on our greens?!

Okay. So, not everyone likes to eat salads three times a day. Especially not for breakfast. And those green leafies are a lot of fiber and can take FOREVER to eat properly (chewing *at least* 30 times per mouthful until you have created a watery "bolus," but that's another discussion). So, how can we make sure to get our greens--reducing them to a pulverized state so our bodies can digest them well-- without taking an hour or two for each meal?

Ann Wigmore (1909-1994) was co-founder of the Hippocrates Health Institute and the author of several books on "living foods." She was both a holistic health practitioner and a nutritionist, and a strong advocate of a diet that consists of only whole, raw, "living" foods. To include more greens in a form that is easier on the digestive system, she pioneered the blending of greens into raw "soups," which were then served at the Hippocrates Institute to those who were working to overcome serious illness.

Green Smoothies were made popular by a woman named Victoria Boutenko, a Russian woman who came to America with her husband and two children in the 1990s. She was invited to teach about Russia at community college in Denver. When she and her family first arrived, they were thrilled with the new variety of "foods" sold in American grocery stores... things that were convenient and didn't take much time or effort to make, i.e. our great variety of processed foods. After consuming American processed foods from grocery stores and fast food restaurants nearly exclusively, all four of the Boutenkos became very ill. The father had rhumatoid arthritis, the mother was obese, the son had juvenile diabetes, the daughter had athesma. After a lot of research and networking, they stumbled onto the raw food vegan way of eating. Gradually, their health problems went away, and they regained vibrant health. As a part of this new way of eating, Victoria struggled to get more greens into her family's diet, in a way that was palatable and more exciting than simply eating salads all the time. The answer? Green Smoothies! She even wrote a book about the benefits of including daily green smoothies as a part of a healthy diet: Green For Life.

Green smoothies, as mentioned in a previous post, are simply delicious fruit smoothies with a handful or two of leafy green goodness blended right in! Some basic guidelines follow:
  • Fruit or berry base (frozen berries, fresh or frozen bananas, other fruit or combinations: pears, oranges, pineapple, coconut flesh, apple, etc)
  • liquid to thicken (water, coconut water, coconut milk, juice, low-or non-caffeinated tea)
  • sweetener (soaked dried fruit like dates, raw honey, stevia)
  • greens (spinach, kale, collards, arugula, chard, mustard greens, dandelion greens, foraged greens, parsley, cilantro)
  • optional additional herbs/spices/flavorings: mint, basil, coconut oil, vanilla, almond extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, etc)
Challenge for the week:

Using the guidelines above, experiment on your own. If you come up with a particularly delicious recipe you'd like to share, post it below!
For more information:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Truth About Your Food


While I'm on the topic of the Ecopolitan, I should mention there are some excellent resources on the website that you can access to learn more about health and nutrition.

#1. Dr. T in 3 videos. These are videos on various topics related to health and nutrition covered by Dr. Tel-Oren in 3 minutes. They are a great intro-- especially if you have little time to spare.

#2. "Should We Cook Our Food?" lecture. Self explanatory.

#3. "The Truth About Your Food " lecture series. Six 2-hour lectures on these topics: Processed Food, Protein, Fat, Sugar, The Foods You Should Eat, and Supplements. These are EXCELLENT. They definitely warrant listening to a second, third, or fourth time. Some of the information given may surprise, shaken, or shock you!
Happy learning!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Ecopolitan + Green Smoothie Recipe


Hi everyone! Just thought I'd let you know what's occupying my time lately. Since I got back from foraging, I have been staying at the Ecopolitan restaurant in the Twin Cities, where I am receiving treatment from the doctor who owns it, Dr. Adiel Tel-Oren. He is an M.D., a retired chiropractor, a nutritionist, and a professor at the University of Natural Medicine in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with a number of other degrees and certifications. If you're wondering about his name... it is Israeli. He also has clinics in Israel, Italy, and California-- He gets around!

So, while I have been here, I have been receiving various therapies and eating 3 meals a day at the Ecopolitan organic, vegan, raw food restaurant. You can read more about it here: http://www.ecopolitan.com/healthyfood/the-restaurant/129-healthy-restaurant-gold-standards Since I'm in the recovery process, my choices are limited to green smoothies and salads, but they are incredibly good! Since I also have discovered I have a number of food sensitivities (46, in fact), I can't really order straight off the menu. So, I get to do the "Custom Salad" and "Custom Smoothie." My smoothies are always Green Smoothies.

What is a Green Smoothie, you ask? Well, basicly, it's just a fruit smoothie with a handful or two of leafy greens. Options include kale, arugula, spinach, lettuce, parsley, cilantro, mustard greens... really whatever you have. Freshly foraged greens are even better! Frozen fruit helps make the smoothie cool and refreshing-- a good reason for picking berries in the summer and freezing them for fresh tasting smoothies through the winter months ahead. Here's an especially delicious smoothie I had the other day:

Frosty Kiwi-Pear-Cilantro Green Smoothie:

2 frozen pears
2 fresh kiwis
1 handful (or 2 if you're brave!) fresh cilantro

Blend, add water to thin if necessary, and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

More Foraging Pictures!

This is a picture of two different edible flowers. The purple one is called "vetch," and the white is "bladdercampion." These will be making an appearance on top of salads in the future...


Here we had a basket of freshly picked catnip. We are cleaning off dead leaves and putting the catnip in a large jar with water to make sun tea (steeped out in the sun a few hours). You can then drink it, or use it as insect repellant!


A tree full of wild plums! They were rather tart, but the ones on the ground were nicely ripened. We found some larger ones later, at what is apparently the local bear's favorite dining place.


Plums and wild grapes... in a whimsical basket, of course!





Chokecherries. Yes, they are very sour, like unsweetened cranberries. People usually use chokecherries to make jams and jellies, syrups and desserts. However, we learned to love them plain and raw!


Foraging baskets full of food! The greens are stinging nettle and comfrey. They ended up in a carrot juice coctail later on. Those are the larger, sweeter plums. Delicious!
Plums and grapes and an apple. Yum.

These are Elderberries. They were sweeter than the chokecherries. Really, quite tasty. The Herbalism students were going to use them to make some kind of healing salve. They are also good as a tea.
Baskets and baskets of Elderberries.

Wild hazelnuts as found on the tree.


When you take the green part off, they look like regular hazelnuts. We cracked them open with stones.

See???

A refreshing swim in the river to end a great weekend.



Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Back from Foraging!

... And look what we found!

What a weekend it was! We drove the Eco-Van (see last post) from the Twin Cities to the place where we went foraging-- just outside Menomenee, WI. We started out by meeting our fellow foragers who drove separately... up in a tree house! We went on several "Herb Walks" through the course of the weekend, and learned about wild greens, flowers, fruits, and berries that we could nibble on throughout our stay. We even learned to identify wild catnip, which could be used to keep mosquitoes away! Some of the fruits we found are pictured above: wild plums, wild grapes, even wild apples which were fairly sweet. We also found and ate chokecherries, elderberries, red clover, mallow, lamb's quarter, stinging nettles, and a number of other greens and flowers. Getting some sun was part of our experience, and "therapy," as vitamin D is going to be more and more difficult to get as the next few weeks pass. Each day ended with a campfire and some time in the infrared sauna. It was a very educational and rejeuvenating weekend. :) Would you like to see some more pictures??

Friday, September 11, 2009

Foraging Adventure


This afternoon, I will be headed out on a whirlwind Eco-Foraging weekend in River Falls, Wisconsin!

It's been quite a while since I've been out camping in the woods, so this is a welcome opportunity. Spending time out in nature is truly therapeutic-- fresh air, music of the song birds, and wild, truly organic, edible greens and berries... and who knows what else? I'm really excited to learn more about what there is to eat in the great outdoors~ really, in God's great garden!

This adventure is one of the events offered through the Ecopolitan Restaurant, in Minneapolis, MN. They are a 100% organic, vegan, raw food, gourmet restaurant. The Ecopolitan building also offers services such as health consultations and treatment (nutritional, functional, and environmental medicine), lectures on health and nutrition, infrared sauna, oxygen therapy, et cetera. You can check out their website here: http://www.ecopolitan.com/

So, I will be traveling via an "Eco-Van" with a group of fellow foragers to hike, camp, forage for wild edibles, learn about herbs from an herbalist, and maybe even go tubing down a river!

I'll let you know how it goes!



Picture courtesy of www.ecopolitan.com/blog

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Most Common Cause of Fatigue that is Missed or Misdiagnosed by Doctors


Dr. Mercola, of www.mercola.com recently had an article about adrenal fatigue, highlighting concepts from Dr. Wilson's book. You can read it here:

Most Common Cause of Fatigue that is Missed or Misdiagnosed by Doctors

Shared via AddThis

"Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome"

A very good resource for those who think they may be suffering from adrenal fatigue is Dr. James L. Wilson's book Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome.


Dr. Wilson explains the causes behind adrenal fatigue, a list of signs and symptoms, how it can lead to other diseases and health conditions, and even a questionnaire to help you determine whether you are indeed a candidate for adrenal fatigue. Most importantly, he includes a complete program to help you recover from adrenal fatigue through lifestyle, diet, and supplementation.

He has an excellent website: http://www.adrenalfatigue.org/, where he presents a lot of the information from his book. This even includes the "Burn out" questionnaire: http://www.adrenalfatigue.org/adrenal-fatigue-questionnaires/burnout-questionnaire.html

Monday, September 7, 2009

50 Contributors to Adrenal Fatigue

  1. Caffeine
  2. Sugar
  3. Alcohol
  4. Eating “on the run”
  5. Food allergies
  6. High-carb diet (lots of grains & sugars)
  7. Nutrient deficiencies
  8. Overeating, even healthy food
  9. Pesticides and herbicides on produce
  10. Processed foods/junk food
  11. Skipping meals
  12. Change in living situation
  13. White flour
  14. Born with weak adrenals due to adrenal fatigue of mother
  15. Malalignment of the spine
  16. Chemical toxicity
  17. Over-the-counter and prescribed medications
  18. Heavy metal toxicity
  19. Electromagnetic pollution
  20. Parasite infestation
  21. Chronic pain
  22. Physical trauma/injury
  23. Type A personality
  24. Anger
  25. Depression
  26. Resentment
  27. Worry/Anxiety
  28. Emotional trauma
  29. Fear
  30. Guilt
  31. Low self-esteem
  32. Negative thoughts
  33. Unresolved conflict
  34. Relationship issues
  35. Wrestling with major issues: moral, theological, spiritual
  36. Mental strain/overwork
  37. Major life events, positive or negative
  38. Serious illness
  39. Illness of loved ones
  40. Death of a loved one
  41. Financial difficulties
  42. Job change/loss
  43. High conflict situations
  44. Late nights
  45. Lack of sleep
  46. Overexertion in exercise
  47. Smoking/secondhand smoke
  48. Loud, pounding music
  49. Media: News, Violent movies
  50. COLLEGE
The things that contribute to adrenal fatigue are all elements that put stress on a person physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. You can probably think of even more. A certain amount of stress is normal and in many ways beneficial. However, when one has stress coming from all different sources, assailing at the same time, it is more than the body can be expected to handle. At that point, the body is thrown out of equilibrium, and must do everything it possibly can to regain balance. That requires a lot of energy, and leads to high levels of inflammation, toxicity, fatigue, and ultimately, disease. The good news? Adrenal fatigue is highly preventable and treatable. Watch for an upcoming post on behaviors that prevent or reverse adrenal fatigue!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Delicious Pumpkin Smoothie


So, I really wasn't ready to think about fall just yet... But since I'm on this 4-day rotation diet, and therefore limited to what I am allowed to eat each day, I resorted to using some canned pumpkin yesterday evening to make a rather filling smoothie for dinner. It turned out quite delicious, so I thought I'd share the recipe. I adjusted ingredients "to taste," but here's the general recipe:

Creamy Pumpkin Smoothie

1/2 cup canned organic pumpkin
1/4 cup full fat coconut milk
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup ice cubes
1 Tbsp of honey or maple syrup (I used 1 packet of Sweet Leaf stevia)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp maca powder, optional (used to build the adrenal glands)

Combine ingredients in a blender and BLEND. Add additional water to thin as necessary, and adjust the other ingredients "to taste." Try cinnamon, cloves, ginger, or pumpkin pie spice, if you like. (Serves one)

Enjoy!

Friday, September 4, 2009

"Burn Out": Signs & Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue, A through Z

This list is by no means comprehensive, but it gives a good idea of what signs and symptoms may indicate weak adrenal glands. This health condition in its milder state is also commonly referred to as "Burn out." I have listed sources/resources at the end.

Allergies (food or environmental)
Anxiety attacks
Apathy
Apprehensiveness
Arthritic-like pains
Auto-Immune disease
Back/neck pain
Best sleep from 7-9 in the morning
Brain fog
Chronic Fatigue diagnosis
Cognitive difficulties
Concentration difficulties
Craving salty, fatty, and high protein food such as meat and cheese
Crying spells
Depression
Digestive problems
Dry skin and hair
Eyes are dry
Fatigue, worsened by physical exertion or stress
Fibromyalgia diagnosis
Hair loss
Headaches
Hormonal problems
Hypersensitivity to noise
Hypoglycemia
Immune system is weak
Inability to handle stress
Insomnia
Irritability
Lightheaded when rising from lying down
Memory problems
Need for caffeine to get going
PMS
Salt cravings
Sensitivities to odors (cleaning products, perfumes, hairsprays)
Sighing frequently
Tired for no reason
Un-refreshing sleep
Varicose Veins
Vision problems
Weight gain (especially around the waist)
Zeal is lacking

Sources/Recommended Reading:
BOOKS:
Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome by James L. Wilson
How to Overcome Tired, Irritable, and Depressed Feelings, by Dr. Thomas A. Owen

WEBSITES:
http://www.adrenalfatigue.org/
http://www.drlam.com/articles/adrenal_fatigue.asp
http://www.naturalnews.com/024985_cortisol_blood_adrenal_fatigue.html
This Chronic Fatigue/Fibromyalgia Symptom Checklist is also helpful: http://www.anapsid.org/cnd/diagnosis/berne.html

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Blog Etymology

While this Blog is still at its very beginnings, it seems like a good idea to point out the "why and wherefore" behind its name, "Wholesome Wisdom." The American Heritage College Dictionary defines these words as follows:

whole·some (ˈhōl-səm) adj. -som·er, -som·est. 1. Conducive to sound health or well-being; salutary. 2. Promoting mental, moral, or social health. 3. Enjoying or marked by physical, mental, or moral soundness; healthy.

wis·dom (ˈwiz-dəm) n. 1. Understanding of what is true, right, or lasting; insight. 2. Common sense; good judgment. 3.a. The sum of scholarly learning through the ages; knowledge. b. Wise teaching of the ancient sages. 4. A wise outlook, plan, or course of action. 5. Wisdom of Solomon.

It is my hope that this blog will exemplify all these different aspects of both "wholesome" and "wisdom," promoting what is:
  • Conducive to sound health and well-being, whether mental, physical, emotional, or spiritual
  • Morally sound
  • True, right, and lasting
  • Common sense/good judment
  • Wisdom from the past, combined with knowledge from the present
  • Part of a plan of action for achieving or maintaining well-being
  • Wisdom, including that of Solomon, recorded in the Holy Bible.
I'm totally open to suggestions or assistance in attaining that objective, whether that be through topic suggestions, additional helpful resources, or even comments or corrections on posts. Thanks for your support! :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Adrenal Fatigue: The STRESS Connection

How does stress contribute to adrenal fatigue?

Basically, an ongoing high level of stress overstimulates the adrenal glands to the point that they just can't handle any more. Our bodies are designed to handle a certain amount of short-term stress: for example, an injury, an argument, a surprise encounter with a wild animal. However, today's society provides ongoing stress from all different sources: the daily news, long work weeks, heavy traffic, lack of sleep, malalignment of the spine, food- and/or environmental allergies, highly processed foods including white flour and white sugar, caffeine, toxic chemicals added to our food and water, building materials, polluted air, electromagnetic pollution, the list goes on and on. Add the death of a loved one, problems at work or school, problems at home, problems at church... and you have a recipe for disaster. Although you may not consider all of these things to be "stress" per se, they are all hard on the body.

College alone can do it for some people. In fact, that is what got me interested in this whole topic. When I first returned home after graduating from college, I had an overwhelming sense of fatigue along with aches and pains. I was first diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue. Later on, after I'd started dealing with ulcerative colitis (inflammation and ulceration of the colon), it was discovered that I had low adrenal function, and that that was likely the primary problem. For me, this was probably caused by a combination of the following: a Type A personality, spinal issues, lack of sleep, processed [read: cafeteria] food, parasite "souvenirs" from trips to China and Brazil, taking too many credits and trying to accomplish too many things... you name it. I'm sure no one else has ever had any of these things going on? ;)

So, when the body is under tremendous stress, it keeps producing the stress hormones epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine (noradrenalin), cortisol, and a couple of others. Cortisol also just happens to be the body's most powerful anti-inflammatory hormone. After a while, the adrenal glands are just plain worn out, and can't keep up with the demands that continued stress places on the body.
When that happens, the body cries out for help via a number of different, seemingly unrelated, symptoms.
Stay tuned for a full list of symptoms...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Blackberries!

 

It's September 1st! I suppose that means the end of summer... but I'm not quite ready to give up on warm sunny days and maybe even some swimming in the lake just yet. Not having to head "Back 2 School" as they say, I'm still thinking about things like foraging for wild berries. :) The last few weeks, I've made almost daily trips to a couple spots not far from our house to pick wild blackberries. Somehow, it's just thrilling to be able to go outside and come back with a container full of free (organically and locally grown!) food.

There's always a lot of talk in the health world about what they call "Superfoods": goji berries, acai, cacao... The question is: why are these superfoods always from other countries? It's great that the blueberries are gettings some credit, but what about blackberries?

Some of the Health Benefits of Blackberries include:

  • A high level of anti-oxidants which protect against cancer and chronic disease
  • Reduction of inflammation
  • Anti-Bacterial activity
  • A good source of Vitamin K, which aids in blood clotting and in the absorption of Calcium
Besides... they're DELICIOUS!
If you don't have access to wild blackberries near you, they are often available at Farmer's Markets and of course in the supermarket.
Some of the ways I recommend using them are:
  • Smooshing them into a sort of "jam." Spread some sourdough toast with nut butter, top with blackberries, and finish with a drizzle of honey over the top (a good way to avoid sugar)
  • As a topping for plain yogurt with a drizzle of honey
  • In a fruit salad with other berries (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, even cherries)
  • As a topping for homemade frozen yogurt or ice cream
  • In a smoothie with coconut milk or yogurt, sweetened with maple syrup
  • As a sauce for pancakes (either blended raw with a squeeze of lemon juice or cooked on the stove)
  • Blended into a sauce for a fruit salad of peaches, cherries, and plums.
What a wonderful way to end a summer!