Health Tips

Homemade Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry Syrup Recipe

Store-bought elderberry syrup is very pricey but it often contains sugar, artificial sweeteners, preservatives and emulsifiers. Making your own syrup is very easy and affordable. I buy one pound of dry elderberries on Amazon for about the same price of a 4 ounce bottle of commercial elderberry syrup and it makes me about four to five 4 ounce bottles of homemade elderberry syrup.

I drink this syrup on a regular basis, especially during the fall and winter months, to boost my immune system. Elderberries are rich in vitamin C and also contain vitamins A and B, flavonoids, amino acids and carotenoids, they are helpful in treating colds, coughs, flu, asthma, upper respiratory infections, and tonsillitis. They are also used for its antioxidant activity, to improve heart health, lower cholesterol, and improve vision.

Other ingredients that make this syrup therapeutic are:
Raw Honey, an alkaline-forming food, antioxidant, antibacterial, and immune builder.
Cinnamon, a natural cough suppressant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory.
Cloves, a powerful germicidal, antiseptic, general stress reliever, blood purifier, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial.

Dosage:
For prevention take 1 tbsp per day (kids 1 tsp per day, because of the honey it is not recommended for infants).
When taking to treat cold or flu symptoms take the standard dosage 3 times a day for 2-3 days

For other natural remedies check my cold and flu soothing tea or benefits and uses of coconut oil

Ingredients:
2 cups of water
½ cup of dry elderberries
½ cup of raw honey
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
8 cloves (optional)
In addition to these ingredients, feel free to add ginger, Echinacea and/or golden seal

Preparation:

  • In a small saucepan combine the elderberries, cloves, cinnamon, and water and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to med/low and simmer for about 45 minutes or until the fluids are reduced by half.
  • Allow the mixture to cool and strain, making sure you squeeze as much juice our of the berries, you can also blend this and run it through a nut milk bag.
  • Mix in the raw honey and whisk until fully dissolved.
  • Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
Homemade Elderberry Syrup

Recipe Type: Home Remedies
Author: Edible Harmony
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups of water
  • ½ cup of dry elderberries
  • ½ cup of raw honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
  • 8 cloves (optional)
  • In addition to this ingredients, feel free to add ginger, Echinacea and/or golden seal
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan combine the elderberries, cloves, cinnamon, and water and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to med/low and simmer for about 45 minutes or until the fluids are reduced by half.
  3. Allow the mixture to cool and strain, making sure you squeeze as much juice our of the berries, you can also ben this and run it through a nut milk bag.
  4. Mix in the raw honey and whisk until fully dissolved.
  5. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, please consult with your health practitioner before taking this homemade elderberry syrup or any other supplements.

References:
http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-elderberry.html
http://www.benefits-of-honey.com/raw-honey.html
http://www.naturalnews.com/031538_cinnamon_coughs.html
http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/benefits-of/clove

Drinks · Health Tips · Side Dish

How to Make Bone Broth

bone broth recipe
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I haven’t even posted this recipe yet and it has already cause a little controversy, created a little anxiousness, and a has stimulated a little bit of curiosity on how to make bone broth. What are its benefits? How is it consumed? What are the origins of this practice?

Almost every culture in history has used bone broth for its flavor, versatility, and amazing nutritional value. The prolonged cooking of bones in water is used to extract minerals and nutrients from the bone and marrow. The resulting broth can be used for making soups, stews, adding moisture to dishes or it can be enjoyed as it. I usually drink a couple cups of it a day, especially during the winter months, to be it is not only nutritious and delicious, but it is also soothing…pure liquid happiness!

Benefits of Bone Broth:

  • Rich in minerals such as calcium, silica, sulphur, magnesium, phosphorous & trace minerals in a highly bioavailable and easily assimilable form.
  • Helps seal and heal the gut lining.
  •  Helpful in treating digestive disorders such as IBS, colitis, leaky gut and even Crohn’s disease.
  • Aids digestion.
  • Natural liver tonic
  • Increases red blood cell and hemoglobin count
  •  Increases serum calcium level
  • Increases the absorption and utilization of calcium.
  •  Prevents and treats myotonia atrophica (muscle wasting)
  •  Helps treating food allergies and maldigestion
  • Helps treating anemia
  • Because it is very rich in calcium it can help with pain and inflammation, cramps, muscle spasms, delusions, depression, insomnia, irritability, hyperactivity, anxiety, palpitations, hypertension, high cholesterol, allergies, brittle nails, periodontal and dental disease, pica, rickets, osteomalacia, osteoporosis and any situation that creates bone loss such as aging, immobilization, postmenopause, and caffeine.

 

How to make bone broth?

It is really easy: start by gathering a couple pounds of bones, ideally you want to use bones with cartilage and bone marrow, beef bones make a richer, tastier broth but you can use chicken bones, pork, turkey or pretty much any edible animal. You can even use the left over bones from a rotisserie chicken or a thanksgiving turkey.

You can roast the bones in the oven first to enhance the flavor of the broth but I typically skip this step. Then you set the bones in a large pot or slow cooker and a cover with water, add a splash of vinegar and soak for a couple of hours (the vinegar is key to extracting the minerals from the bones). Add vegetables, salt and spices of choice, bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer anywhere from 8 hours to 48 hours. I boil mine for about 24 and since I am going to strain the broth I usually add vegetable peels, cucumber and zucchini ends, bell pepper cores, apple cores, eggshells, beat greens, cilantro or parsley roots and any other “leftovers” I had been accumulating from the preparation of previous meals

Ingredients:

1/2 to 1 lb of grass fed beef knuckle bone cartilage
1 lb of grass fed beef marrow bone (the smaller the better)
4 quarts of water
2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
10-12 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
Salt and Pepper to taste
Optional ingredients: celery stalks, onions, vegetable peels, eggshells, apple cores, bell pepper cores, vegetable greens, rosemary, thyme, oregano, etc.

Preparation:

  • Optional Step: Preheat the oven to 400 F and roast the bones until well browned, turning about every 20 minutes.
  •  Transfer bones to a large pot or slow cooker (Crockpot) and add the water and vinegar.
  • Let sit for about 2 hours.
  •  Turn the heat on to high and bring the water to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to low and simmer the bones for 8 to 24 hours, replenishing the pot with hot water as needed.
  • Strain and drink

The same bones can be used to make a second batch, you must add new vinegar, vegetables and spices.
The broth can be stored in a mason jar in the refrigerator for about 5- days, but if you bring the broth to a boil every couple of days it should last longer, or you can just freeze it.

For bouillon reduce the broth to about 3 cups of liquid, freeze in ice cube trays and dissolve an ice cube or two in hot water as needed

CONTINUAL BROTH:

To have warm and fresh broth available 24/7, keep the bones in the crock pot and always keep it on, replenishing the water and adding new vegetables and spices, depending on how much broth you drink you may have to replace your bones with fresh bones every week or so.

Health Tips · Personal Care · Vegetarian

Homemade Deodorant

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Yes, I have been called a hippy a few times before! This recipe for a homemade deodorant probably earned me that title, but let me tell you that this deodorant works even better than the store-bought ones and just to put it to the test before I shared it with you guys, my skeptical husband applied it to one underarm right before his soccer game, and not the other, and then had me “guess” which one was which. Let’s just say it was one of the easiest things I’ve ever done. The results were nothing short of amazing!

There are so many concerns with commercial antiperspirants and deodorants, cancer being one of the biggest ones. Among them breast cancer, mainly because the underarm is very close to the breast tissue and also because many ingredients in deodorants are estrogenic compounds.  One of estrogen’s roles in the body is to promote the growth of breast tissue, so an excess could lead to cancerous overgrowth. Aluminum is used as an antiperspirant to plug sweat ducts; it has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease but is also known to be estrogenic. Parabens are also estrogenic compounds commonly found in deodorants and may act as hormone disruptors in the body.

Some deodorants also contain Triclosan, a common antibacterial ingredient that, when combined with water, will form chloroform, a probable carcinogen.

Propylene glycol was originally developed as an anti-freeze but it is now added to deodorants to keep them from drying out. It is a neurotoxin known to cause contact dermatitis, kidney damage, and liver damage. In propylene glycol’s Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS, workers are urged to avoid skin contact with the toxic chemical as it may cause eye and skin irritation, gastrointestinal irritation and discomfort, headache, nausea, vomiting, and central nervous depression.

This homemade deodorant is made with only 3 ingredients that I normally use for cooking: coconut oil, arrowroot powder and baking soda

Why does it work?
Coconut oil is a natural anti-bacterial and baking soda is a natural deodorizer

Ingredients:

¼ cup of  baking soda
¼ cup of arrowroot powder or corn starch
¼ cup of coconut oil
a few drops of your favorite essential oil (optional)

Preparation:

  • In a small saucepan gently heat the coconut oil until melted.
  • Remove from heat
  • Whisk in the rest of the ingredients until smooth
  • Transfer to a small container and keep in your medicine cabinet or wait for it to cool down and solidify and scoop it into an empty deodorant container*

*If you are putting it into a deodorant container, you may have to keep it in the refrigerator during the summer months as it will melt easily

For a travel sized homemade deodorant, fill an empty lip balm container with the mixture.

Drinks · Health Tips

Cold and Flu Soothing Tea Remedy

Natural cold and flu remedy

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Cold and flu season is here and almost everyone around me is coming down with “something”, so I hope this natural cold and flu soothing tea remedy comes with good timing

I have given out this tea recipe so many times and everyone loves it! It’s truly an instant feel good potion. I got this recipe from a former coworker, Harrison K. from Harry’s Deli in Irvine, California.  If ever around this area, check out his place for amazing food. He is a genius in the kitchen, and has given me many tips and ideas, as well as a chili recipe that once helped me win a chili cook-off.

Why does this recipe work? It works due to its powerful combination of natural anti-flu/cold substances, all combined into one “magical” potion. It contains garlic, a natural immune system booster because of its antiseptic, anti-fungal and nutritive properties. It is a natural detoxifier protecting against bacterial and viral infections.  Don’t get discouraged by the garlic part, you will barely be able to taste it.

Lemons are rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, and a great body alkalizer.

Ginger has been used for centuries as an effective cure for cough and cold. It helps alleviate sore throats, itchiness, coughing, and even blocked nasal passages.

Honey has been proven by studies to shorten the duration of the common cold and fight viruses and it reduces coughs by coating and soothing an irritated throat.

Cayenne Pepper stimulates the release of mucus from the respiratory passages and it helps clear your sinuses.

I believe that not only do these powerful nutrients work individually, I believe that combined they create a synergy that makes them even more potent.  Enjoy and drink it throughout the day!

Ingredients:

2 ½ quarts of water
½ lb of sliced ginger root
4 garlic cloves, sliced in half lengthwise
4 lemons, sliced
Raw honey to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)

Preparation:

  • In a large saucepan add the water, sliced garlic and sliced ginger root.
  • Bring to a boil and continue to cook over medium-high heat for 20 minutes
  • Add the sliced lemon and boil for 5 more min. (Do not boil for longer or your tea will be bitter)
  • Remove from heat.
  • Squeeze the lemons by pressing down with a fork or a potato masher
  • Serve and sweeten with honey( preferably raw)
  • Add cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Enjoy & drink throughout the day (If it’s too strong just add a little bit of hot water).
  • Thank Denise 🙂
Health Tips

Chlorella, The Perfect Whole Food

Benefits of Chlorella

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I´ve often been asked, “What is the healthiest, most complete food?”  While there is no definite answer to this question, one unquestionable fact is that chlorella is a top contender.  This single-celled, fresh water algae has recently been becoming more popular as a medicinal superfood due to its unique qualities and benefits. It contains high amounts of chlorophyll, beta carotene, protein, amino acids, essential fatty acids, and RNA/DNA. It is a vegetarian and vegan-friendly source of complete protein, and also contains B-vitamins, antioxidants (vitamins E and C), and the entire spectrum of minerals (especially iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc). It is especially powerful in chronic conditions such as cancer, fibromyalgia, and arthritis, as well as GI and heart issues. It is available in liquid extract, powder, or pill forms.

The list of health benefits from chlorella is seemingly endless, and new benefits continue to be discovered. These benefits include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Helps fight cancer…scientists have shown that not only does chlorella help the body fight cancer by boosting immunity, but it also helps minimize the negative side effects of chemotherapy.
  • Helps relieve fibromyalgia…several different studies have shown chlorella to reduce the symptoms of fibromyalgia by 22%, as well as an overall improvement in quality of life.
  • Breastfeeding mothers taking chlorella have been shown by studies to have lower dioxin concentration in their breast milk, as well as higher levels of immune factor IgA. Anti-viral, anti-bacterial properties.
  • Helps detoxify heavy metals (mercury, lead, and cadmium)
  • Helps prevent different types of anemia.
  • Aids heart in utilizing magnesium for proper heart function Improves overall digestion and relieves constipation.
  • Eliminates halitosis (bad breath)
  • Balances body´s pH.
  • Reduces blood glucose.
  • Lowers cholesterol.
  • Helps control blood pressure.
  • Protects against:

Radiation
Ulcers & Gastritis
Hypertension
Hypoglycemia
Colitis Diverticulitis
Crohn´s Disease
Asthma
Constipation
Cholesterol

When choosing chlorella, keep in mind that the different brands offer different substrains, varying growing conditions, and cultivation methods that can affect the product´s potency. For example, some brands can be several times higher in CGF (Chlorella Growth Factor), protein, and chlorophyll content than others due to selective breeding, superior cultivation techniques and quality control practices. The best brands include variations that have been grown outdoors in clean, mmineral-rich water and abundant amounts of natural sun exposure.  Ideal brands of chlorella include powders, tablets, liquid extracts, and capsules.  Look for brands with CGF above 15%, chlorophyll above 3%, and protein content higher than 50%, and no fillers or binders.

Dosage Information:

Therapeutic dose: 10 grams per day.

Maintenance dose: 5 grams per day.

Upper limit: None.

However, introduce chlorella slowly and gradually, as it can cause mild diarrhea in some people.

Note: An  indication that you’re getting a sufficient dose of chlorella in your  diet is your stools will turn green.

References: Nutritional supplementation with Chlorella pyrenoidosa for patients with fibromyalgia syndrome: a pilot study. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10815009 Protective effect of an acidic glycoprotein obtained from culture of Chlorella vulgaris against myelosuppression by 5-fluorouracil. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8706047 Chlorella (Chlorella pyrenoidosa) supplementation decreases dioxin and increases immunoglobulin a concentrations in breast milk. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17472477 Herb Wisdom http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-chlorella.html Chlorella Factor http://www.chlorellafactor.com/chlorella-spirulina-30.html
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Health Tips

Chia Seeds: Benefits and Nutrition

benefits and nutrition of chia seeds
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Chia seeds, also known as Salvia Hispanica, is a seed grown primarily in southern Mexico. These miniature powerhouses are extremely nutritious, readily available, inexpensive, and versatile. They are made up of 22% of protein, 35% of healthy fats, and abundant amounts of dietary fiber. With 10-11 grams of fiber per ounce, chia seeds deliver over 40% of the recommended daily value of fiber with a single serving. The fiber helps slow digestion and makes you feel fuller by soaking up fluid and expanding in your digestive tract. A unique characteristic of chia is its nutritional content:

3-5 times more calcium than milk.
3 times more iron than spinach.
8 times more omega 3s than salmon.
15 times more magnesium than broccoli.
3 times more antioxidants than blueberries.

Among the numerous benefits of chia is their high omega 3 content, higher than even flaxseed.  Another benefit of chia over flaxseed is that due to their high antioxidant content, their storage life is extremely long. Chia seeds do not have the rancidity issues that affect other sources of fatty acids. Also, unlike flax seeds, they are very bioavailable and do not need to be ground or crushed before eaten  for optimal absorption. They´re also a great source of fiber, and chock full of minerals including magnesium, calcium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, iron, and zinc as well as B vitamins.

Their versatility and unique nutritional content makes chia seeds a great choice for those suffering from numerous health conditions.  Chia helps control blood sugar, as well as lowers cholesterol and blood pressure. It helps improve memory and mood, and also improves the overall health of skin, teeth, and nails. Yet another advantage unique to chia seeds: when added to water and allowed to sit for 30 minutes, chia seeds form a gel. Researchers suggest that a similar reaction takes place in the stomach, slowing the process by which digestive enzymes break down carbohydrates and convert them into sugar. This can prove as a great benefit in weight management endeavors. Also, chia gel can replace eggs in vegan versions of various types of baked goods. If making chia gel, use 1 part chia  to 9 parts liquid. Mix well, and allow 10 minutes for the seeds to fully  hydrate.

In the culinary world, chia seeds also have unique characteristics that are making them a more popular choice in ethnic foods from around the world.  Their mild nutlike flavor and solid consistency provide them with a versatility that makes them a great addition to yogurt, smoothies, salads, baked goods, and almost anything you can imagine.  Their consistency and internal properties allow them to be a healthy substitute for butter and/or eggs while baking, which makes chia a favorite among vegetarians and vegans alike. Until recently, chia was produced by only a few small growers, but commercial production has resumed in Latin America, and you can now buy the seeds online and in health food stores. Because of their unique nutritional value and stability, chia is already being added to a range of foods. Another bonus: insects don’t like the chia plant so it is easier to find organically grown varieties. Although already featured on many health blogs, magazines, articles, and even The Dr. Oz TV Show, be on the look out as we´ll undoubtedly be hearing much more about chia and its health benefits in the near future.

Here are some of my favorite chia recipes:  apricot chia bars, raw rice pudding, or  grain-free wrap
Emergency Preparedness · Health Tips

Gluten-Free and Paleo Emergency Preparedness

Emergency Preparedness
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When disaster strikes, conditions are often extreme.  As such, the nutritional rules of engagement that we usually follow and respect must be balanced with the need to survive under extreme conditions.  In this article, I have attempted to respect healthy nutritional principles, while balancing them with the extreme circumstances that may be encountered in a disaster of great magnitude. If you are looking to be  prepared for the next earthquake, hurricane, snowstorm, extended power outage, nuclear disaster, WWIII, or Zombie Apocalypse (LOL), you must ensure that you have an abundant supply of healthy nutritional choices stored, preferably at a  reasonable cost. When it comes to disaster preparedness, no preparation is excessive. I´ll be the first to admit that gluten-free and Paleo emergency preparedness were topics I had given very little thought to combined. I visited countless websites, read blogs, talked to folks who were in-the know, and did research that allowed me to put together some ideas on how to be best prepared. Best of all, this can be done while adhering to a Paleo, gluten-free, or other dietary lifestyle.

With the  growing interest in gluten-free, Paleo-friendly nutrition as well as disaster preparedness and survivalism,  I had received several emails inquiring about which foods are the best options for emergency situations.  I set forth on a quest to marry the two fascinating fields of nutrition and disaster preparedness.  In doing this research, I gathered an abundant amount of information, and discovered that even during a disaster, gluten-free and Paleo nutritional lifestyles can be followed, with some due diligence and careful planning. Upon researching these topics, I rapidly noticed that health-conscious folks interested in having their homes and their families prepared are just like any other consumer. They want the most quality per dollar spent. In other words, they are value shoppers.  As a self-proclaimed “value junkie”, I can empathize and relate to these concerns. In creating this article, I´ve combined the answers to the numerous questions received, along with countless and enlightening suggestions, ideas, and insights received from many folks with invaluable and practical knowledge. Since finances and space seem to be limiting factors in regards to which foods we can choose, I´ve attempted to list foods that will provide the proverbial “best bang for our buck”. Food costs can be reduced in several ways:

1) Buying generic brands
2) Buying in bulk
3) Buying foods when they´re on sale
4) Aggressive couponing

Buy generic.  Brand names are costly, and oftentimes the same brand names manufacture the generic products– minus the labeling, advertising, and packaging. This translates into more affordable (i.e. cheaper) products.

Buy in bulk: lower cost units of food can be achieved by shopping in bulk at discount warehouse retailers (Sam´s Club, Costco, etc). If available, farm supply stores are a great place to buy seeds in large amounts. Since these stores are typically geographically close to their growing locations, costs are maintained low which translates into lower prices and lower economic impact–a win-win, all-around!

Wait for sales…most stores have weekly or monthly sales. Get informed by either checking local newspapers, searching online, or asking grocery store workers about upcoming sales events.

Become an aggressive couponer.  I wasn´t aware that there are entire websites, blogs, and groups devoted to nothing but hardcore, aggressive couponing. Some of these sites have cult-like followings, something I find truly fascinating!

Ultimately, the goal of anyone interested in disaster preparedness should be putting together an abundant collection of nutritious foods that are energy-dense, with high quality protein, quality complex carbohydrates, and healthy essential fats. Some great choices include, but are not limited to, the following:

Canned tuna…great source of high quality protein and fats, combined with great shelf life. (For folks with mercury toxicity concerns, I completely understand…however, in a major disaster it´s safe to say the potential for mercury toxicity takes a back seat to immediate survival).

Coconut oil and lard will last for at least 1-2 yrs in a sealed, airtight container kept in a cool area.  (See benefits of coconut oil here)Your body needs essential fats.  Your brain is largely made up of fat, as is protective coating on your lungs, and many other critical body systems.  Fats are calorie dense, which is also of benefit during extreme circumstances. Also in this category, peanut and almond butter

Canned fruits and vegetables: readily available, inexpensive, and can offer a variety of sources for minerals, vitamins, and fiber.

Protein powder. Once the exclusive domain of bodybuilders and fitness fanatics, protein powder boasts of a long list of benefits that make it a perfect item to have for emergency situations. It is lightweight, requires no refrigeration even after opening, requires no preparation other than mixing with water, and it can replace meals if necessary!  Also, it is lightweight and easily stored in Ziploc bags, jars, jugs, or tupperware-type containers.

Chia seeds. These miniature powerhouses have a shelf life of up to 5 years when dried.  They are rich in essential fatty acids, as well as B vitamins, calcium, fiber, and protein.  They can be used to make beverages and low or no-cook puddings. They can also be used to add nutritional content to smoothies, baked goods, and other foods.

Unrefined salt is loaded with trace minerals essential to health. Also, salt can also be used to preserve food.

Sprouting seeds also have a great storage life, up to 2 years or even more.  They are loaded with antioxidants (vitamins A, C, E) as well as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and trace minerals.  They can also be a source of live food that grows quickly when in short supply.  Best of all, sprouting seeds are easy to use, and they can be grown in sprouting kits, bags or even nylon stockings.

Lacto-fermented vegetables: Sauerkraut is easy to make, inexpensive, and can last months (sometimes years) in a cool, dry location.  It´s a great source of vitamin C and K, as well as iron and manganese.

Herbs and spices: the absolute perfect candidate for this list. They are high in antioxidants, have antiinflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal properties, and in many cases can be used as all-natural preservatives as well! Cinnamon, garlic, cloves, coriander, turmeric, basil and oregano are among the best choices due to their versatility, availability, shelf life, and price. (See benefits of turmeric here ) In research done at Kansas State University, a research team discovered that cinnamon added to apple juice contaminated with E.Coli, was able to kill 99.5% of the bacteria within three days, at room temperature. Truly amazing!

While my fellow health nuts and food purists may cringe at the thought of consuming anything high in sugar, the fact remains that in an emergency situation, honey has been and will always be an inexpensive, readily available source of short-term energy. It has great shelf life, as it can last for decades if stored in a sealed container in a cool, dry location.

Water:  the most essential nutrient.  Keep as much as space will allow, as in certain disasters the water system could be compromised (damaged or polluted).

For those with children, infant formula is recommended as well. While I am a passionate advocate for breastfeeding, extreme circumstances require extreme measures, and this is one of them. Stress can diminish or even eliminate a woman’s breast milk supply, so having formula is a prudent choice.

For pet owners, remember to store food and water for your furry friends as well.

This brings us to how to customize these foods while following gluten-free, Paleo-friendly dietary guidelines. For brevity´s sake, we´ve listed just the basics, without getting into the details that can be found on the numerous blogs and websites pertaining to these topics (i.e. Edible Harmony).

Paleo: eliminate grains, legumes, and focus on consuming dried or canned veggies and fruits, dehydrated or canned meats/fish, and nuts.

Gluten-free: eliminate gluten-containing food. (See Gluten Food List), focus on lean meats, fish, fruits, beans, vegetables, and nuts.

For a practical, simple DIY guide to canning and dehydrating vegetables, visit our friends at Homestead Survival.

Hopefully, you will never have to put this information to use.  If disaster does strike, however, it will serve you well to be prepared and informed, in order to maximize not only the survival but the thrival of your family.  Additionally, you will be able to adhere to your gluten-free and/or Paleo diet, ensuring that once the proverbial dust settles, a return to normalcy will happen as seamlessly as possible.  Good luck, and good eats to all!

NOTE: This article is NOT meant to be a comprehensive guide to disaster or emergency preparedness, simply some tips to improve overall nutrition during emergency situations.  For more comprehensive, detailed preparation for emergency situations, please visit these resources: www.homesteadsurvival.blogpsot.com and http://homesteadingsurvivalism.myshopify.com/

Health Tips

Benefits of Turmeric

Turmeric The King of Spices

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In cooking, herbs and spices are of tremendous benefit. They can provide not only amazing tastes, but also deliver health benefits that in some cases rival our strongest medications.  Among spices, there is one that I personally consider the “Queen of Spices.”  Turmeric is a spice derived from the dry ground root of Curcuma longa, typically found in India and Indonesia. It has a deep yellow-orange tinge, from which it derives one of its nicknames, “Indian saffron”. Health benefits of turmeric include antiinflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, anticarcinogenic, and antioxidant properties.  In India and China it has been used medicinally for centuries. In the Western world, however, turmeric is best known for its culinary prowess. Turmeric gives American yellow mustard its bright yellow color. Also, it is one of the main ingredients in curry dishes. It has a bitter, peppery flavor and smells like a mixture of orange peel and ginger. Turmeric´s health benefits are well-known and documented, so let´s find out more on this amazing spice.

The history and the discovery of the benefits of turmeric are fascinating. Both India and China claim to have been the first to use it medicinally. Ancient Polynesians carried turmeric with them on their voyage across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii. In 1280 AD, Marco Polo recorded information on the benefits of turmeric in his diary. “There is also a vegetable which has all the properties of true saffron, as well the smell and the color, and yet it is not really saffron.”  Even in modern times, in Hawaii turmeric is still used, known to Hawaiians as “Olena”.

Undoubtedly, the most powerful ingredient in turmeric is curcumin. Curcumin gives turmeric its characteristic yellow color. It is a substance that is non-toxic and is found in turmeric along with other nutrients. These nutrients are included in the list below. The nutrients and quantities in 2 teaspoons (4.52 grams) of turmeric powder is as follows:
Dietary Fiber – 960 mg
Manganese – 0.36 mg
Vitamin B6 – 0.08 mg
Iron – 1.88 mg
Potassium – 114.48 mg

Turmeric has been used for centuries not only in cuisine, but also as a part of Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine. Recent research is beginning to back up many of these time-tested uses with scientific data. The most well-known benefit of turmeric is its anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin has been shown to produce anti-inflammatory effects that rival those of ibuprofen and hydrocortisone. As an added benefit, curcumin does not have the potential toxicity that pharmaceutical drugs exhibit.

According to scientific studies, conditions for which turmeric may be beneficial are numerous. These include, but are not limited to the following conditions:

Alzheimer´s Disease

Psoriasis

Diabetes

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Rheumatoid Arthritis & Osteoarthritis

Cystic Fibrosis

Cancer (all types)

Heart Disease

Liver toxicity & disease

Multiple Sclerosis

When we have something that is natural, relatively inexpensive, delicious, readily available, and has medicinal properties that rival and in many cases even exceed many of our modern medicines, we must use it, enjoy its benefits, and share it with our friends and loved ones so that they too can achieve better health and wellness!

Even today, the health benefits of turmeric are still being researched.  New ones are being discovered.  With chronic disease on the rise, including this miraculous gift from Mother Nature in our cooking is a surefire way to stack the deck in our favor when attempting to protect ourselves and our loved ones from these afflictions.  Good eats and good health to all!

I realize that I don´t have a lot of recipes that call for turmeric yet, but when I get back from vacation my goal will be to start using it a lot more. Here is one recipe to start Brazilian Chicken Stew

 

Health Tips

Coconut Oil Uses and Benefits

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Since I am not cooking much while on vacation, I decided it was the perfect time to share a list of coconut oil uses and benefits. Last summer we went on a family backpacking tour throughout Europe. We  visited a total of 7 countries…with my (then) almost 2-year-old. While it may sound crazy, we had a blast. We traveled mostly by train and didn’t have much of a set itinerary or agenda, so we had to pack very light. We could only bring one suit case and half of it was filled with toys, children’s books, and diapers. In case you were wondering about the way we looked and smelled during the trip, we did laundry almost every night.

I couldn’t really pack a lot of toiletries either, so I had to repurpose a lot of things. My most useful item was a small jar of extra-virgin coconut oil.  It served as our cooking oil, butter, moisturizer, hair conditioner, detangler, hair de-frizzer, deodorant, chapstick, diaper cream, and make up remover. Reminiscing on this trip I recently decided to look for other benefits and uses of coconut oil. This is a summary of what I came up with.

For the last 60 years, coconut oil was thought to be detrimental to our health due to its saturated fat content.  It was associated with high cholesterol, obesity, and heart disease.  However, studies done on Pacific Island populations, who get up to 60% of their calories from fully saturated coconut oil ,have shown that the rates of cardiovascular disease are almost non-existent.

Truth is, not all saturated fats are created equal.  Those that occur naturally, are generally safe and beneficial, while those obtained from adding hydrogen to vegetable and seed oils to increase processed foods shelf life are not. These artificially manipulated vegetable oils contain trans fats and long chain fatty acids which are difficult for our body to break down and then become stored as fat.

Almost half of the fat in coconut oil is lauric acid,which your body converts into monolaurin, a powerful anti-viral, anti-protozoa, and anti-bacterial substance. Coconut oil is also rich in medium chain fatty acids, which are quickly burned by your liver for energy, boosting your metabolism and helping the body use fat for energy instead of storing it.

TOPICAL USES OF COCONUT OIL

  • Moisturizer
  • Hair conditioner
  • Hair de-frizzer
  • Deodorant
  • Chap stick
  • Diaper cream
  • Sunburn relief
  • Make up remover
  • Decreases the appearance of cellulite
  • Reduces acne
  • Eye cream
  • Pre-shave and after-shave
  • Toothpaste (mixed with baking soda)
  • Nipple cream (breastfeeding)
  • Massage oil
  • Sunscreen
  • Exfoliator (mixed with coarse sea salt or sugar)
  • Cradle cap remover
  • Helps fade age spots
  • Helps heal bruises
  • Healing scrapes and cuts
  • Relieves psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis
  • Stops bug bites from itching
  • Relieves swimmers ears (mixed with garlic oil)
  • Helps cure toenail fungus ( take internally as well)
  • Helps with hemorrhoids
  • Helps athlete’s foot
  • Helps with canker sores

 

INTERNAL USES OF COCONUT OIL (when ingested)

  • Aids the absorption of vitamins, minerals and amino acids
  • Aids digestion; its antibacterial properties help control parasites and fungi
  • Stimulates metabolism
  • Improves thyroid function
  • Increases energy levels
  • Decreases unwanted body fat
  • Enriches breast milk
  • Helps weight loss
  • Controls cravings
  • Helps keep blood sugar levels stable
  • Helps relieve thrush
  • Helps with asthma
  • Relieves migraines
  • Relieves hot flashes
  • Prevents and improves Alzheimer’s
  • Improves flaky skin
  • Improves candida albicans
  • Improves circulation
  • Helps with depression
  • Helps with adrenal fatigue
  • Improves cholesterol levels
  • Strengthens immune system

 

OTHER USES OF COCONUT OIL:

  • Removes gum from hair 
  • Furniture polish (mixed with lemon juice)
  • Bronze polish
  • Leather conditioner
  • Seasoning cookware
For recipes using coconut oil, click here
Sources
Health Tips

Uses and Benefits of Cucumber


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The cucumber, originally from India, is a widely cultivated creeping vine which bears edible fruit when ripe. Among fruits and vegetables, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more versatile food item, as it has not only a countless number of nutritional benefits, but also household uses that can save you both time and money. Below you’ll find some self-evident nutritional benefits of cucumbers, along with some lesser-known uses that will leave you both scratching your head in disbelief and ecstatic that something so accessible and inexpensive has so many practical uses.

1. Aid in weight loss: Due to its low calorie and high water content, cucumber is an ideal diet for people who are looking for weight loss.

2. Hydration: They are 95% water but far more nutritious.

3. Diuretic: It encourages the elimination of waste products from the body through urination. Regular intake of cucumber helps to dissolve bladder or kidney stones.

4. Nutrition: They contain  vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, folic acid, vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.

5. Energy: They are a good source of B-vitamins and carbohydrates that can provide that quick pick-me-up when needed!

6. Skin care: The high water content, antioxidants, and the presence of certain minerals like magnesium, potassium, and silica make cucumbers an essential part of skin care. Facial masks containing cucumber juice can be used for skin tightening. Ascorbic acid and caffeic acid present in cucumbers can bring down the water retention rate which in turn diminishes the puffiness and swelling under the eyes. Cucumber skin also can bring relief to the skin caused by sunburn or windburn.

7. Anti-fog: Rub a slice of cucumber on mirrors to prevent fogging.

8. Fight cancers: Cucumber are known to contain lariciresinol, pinoresinol, and secoisolariciresinol which are linked to a reduced risk of several types of cancer.

9. Pest control: Place a few slices in a small pie tin in your garden soil and the scent produced from the reaction with the aluminum drives grubs and slugs away

10. Control blood pressure: Cucumber juice contains a lot of potassium, magnesium, fiber, and phytonutrients that work effectively for regulating blood pressure.

11. Diminishing cellulite: Try rubbing a slice of cucumber along your problem area for a few minutes, the phytochemicals in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten, firming up the outer layer and instantly reducing the visibility of cellulite. Works great on wrinkles too!

12. Stimulate hair growth: They contain silicon and sulphur and thus a regular intake of cucumber can help promote healthy hair growth. For best results, mix cucumber juice with the juices of carrot, lettuce or spinach.

13. Appetite control: They are filling, yet low-calorie. They’ve been used for centuries–they were used by European trappers, traders, and explorers for quick meals to thwart off starvation.

14. Shoe polish: Rub a cucumber slice over you shoes to provide a quick and durable shine.

15. Teeth and gum health: They are a good source of dietary fiber and this fiber massages the teeth and gums.

16. Natural WD40 (lubrication): need to fix a squeaky hinge? Take a cucumber slice and rub it along the problematic area.

17. Relaxer: Cut up an entire cucumber and place it in a boiling pot of water. The chemicals and nutrients from the cucumber will react with the boiling water and be released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma that has been shown by studies to reduce stress in new moms and college students during final exams.

18. Halitosis control: Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds to eliminate bad breath. The phytochemicals will kill the bacteria in your mouth responsible for causing bad breath.

19. Shining metals: Take a slice of cucumber and rub it on faucets, sink, stainless steel, or surfaces you want to clean. It will remove years of tarnish and bring back the shine.

20. Ink eraser: Take the outside of the cucumber and slowly use it to erase the pen writing; also works great on crayons and markers that the kids have used to decorate the walls.

21. Aid digestion: Their high water and dietary fiber are very effective in driving away the toxins from the digestive system. Daily consumption of cucumbers can be regarded as a remedy for chronic constipation.

22. Promotes joint health: Cucumbers are an excellent source of silica, which is known to help promote joint health by strengthening the connective tissues.

23. Treat tapeworms: Cucumber seeds are used as a natural remedy for treating tapeworms. Bruised cucumber seeds mixed with water are also effective in the treatment of swellings of the mucous membranes of the nose and the throat.

24. Nail care: The high silica content of cucumbers also helps to prevent splitting and spoiling of nails of the fingers and toes.

25. Relieve gout and arthritis pain: Cucumbers are rich in vitamin A, B1, B6, C & D, Folate, Calcium, Magnesium, and Potassium. When mixed with carrot juice, they can relieve gout and arthritis pain by lowering uric acid levels.

26. Helps diabetes: Cucumbers contain a substance needed by the cells of the pancreas for producing insulin.

27. Reduces cholesterol: Researchers have found that sterols in cucumbers help reduce cholesterol levels.

28. Teething toy: Frozen slices of cucumber help soothe babies’ gums. (adult supervision at all times)