Wednesday, November 30, 2011

More on Sleep

It seems as though I hit upon a hot topic with regards to needing a peaceful nights rest!  I thought I would do a follow up post regarding herbal treatments for insomnia.  There are three herbs that I would like to discuss and these can all be bought inexpensively at Mountain Rose Herbs.
It is important to note, though, that if you suffer from insomnia, you should try to identify the underlying cause, such as stress, hormones, lifestyle, or a medical issue, so that you can make the needed changes and find the appropriate herb or oil to help you in the interm.  I do recommend rotating herbs and taking breaks from herbal treatments.  Too much of anything is not a good thing.

Chamomile - this is a standard treatment for insomnia.  You can make an easy brew to drink 45 minutes before bedtime by placing one teaspoon of herb to steep in 1 cup of hot water for 15 minutes.

Valerian Root - valerian is an herb that many use to treat insomnia.  It's a strong herb and one that I would recommend rotating frequently.  This is brewed differently than your typical tea.  A decoction is made of this root by taking 1 teaspoon and pouring a cup of cold water over it and letting it sit all day.  Drink 45 minutes before bed.

Lemon Balm - this herb is great for helping you to relax, so if stress is contributing to your insomnia, you may want to give this herb a try.  Take one teaspoon of herb and pour 1 cup of hot water over it, letting it sit for 15 minutes.  Drink 45 minutes before bed.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Peaceful Night's Rest

It's a busy time of year!  If you feel like you need some help unwinding at night, you can try this simple technique to encourage a peaceful and restful night of sleep.  Take 1 drops of lavender or neroli essential oil and place it on a cotton ball.  Place the cotton ball at the top edge of your pillow (keep away from your eyes) or on the ground next to your bed right before you go to sleep.  The oil will naturally diffuse into the air all night and help you to relax both mentally and physically.

You do want to be careful with your use of essential oils and not use the same oils every night and give yourself a break from using oils.  I recommend trying this a few times a week, rotating oils.   Other oils you can try would be roman chamomile or bergamont.  If you are nursing or pregnant, you should consult your physician before using essential oils.

I personally have used lavender and neroli with much success and have woken up feeling much more rested and relaxed.  You do want to to be sure that you are buying oils from reputable sources.  I can recommend these two:  Floracopeia and Florihana.  You want to be sure that your oils are 100% pure and organic and have not be adulterated in any way, as adulteration could actually cause adverse reactions.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Don't Toss that Turkey Carcass!

One of my favorite things to do after Thanksgiving is make turkey stock.  I usually get about 8 canning jars worth of stock from my 14 pound turkey.  Turkey broth is easy to make.  I just take my turkey carcass, break it into a few pieces, and place it in my stock pot.  I add enough water to cover the carcass and let it simmer for 8-10 hours.  Once the carcass has simmered and the broth is ready, I simply remove the bones and bottle the broth.  Often the water has cooked down and the broth is very concentrated, so I get out my 8 canning jars and evenly fill the jars and then add water until the jar is 3/4 full.  The broth is then ready to place in the freezer.  Be sure that your jars are not too hot before you place them in the freezer or they will crack.  They will also crack if you overfill then, thus the reason I fill them just 3/4 full.
You can use this broth to make delicious soups or use it when you cook up grains such as rice, quinoa, or millet.

Friday, November 25, 2011

How to Make Pomegranate Juice

It's pomegranate season!  These fruits are beautiful, delicious, and a super food.  You can read more about their health benefits here.  I just bought 25 pounds of organic pomegranates from our local co-op and decided to make pomegranate juice for the first time for Thanksgiving.  It was a bit labor intensive, but very easy and so delicious!  I'm hooked for life!  Here's how I did it...
Wash off your pomegranates.  Fill a large bowl full of water and place it on your kitchen counter.  Put on an apron (the juice can sometime spray and can stain.)  Cut off the crown of the pomegranate and score the outside in 4 sections.  Put the pomegranate in the bowl of water and pull apart.  Keeping it in the bowl and under water will prevent any juice from spraying you.  Once you separate out all the seeds and pulp, place the seeds in a blender or Vitamix and pulse for 10-15 seconds.  Strain the juice to remove seed and any extra pulp and you will be left with delicious juice!
I plan to freeze some of our extra juice to bring out throughout the winter.  I also mixed some in with fresh squeezed orange juice this morning, which was delicious.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cut the Sugar!

It's Thanksgiving...a time for yummy food, right?  Of course!  And this is one of my family's favorite times to indulge, and indulge we do!  I'm not one for cutting back on the holidays, but I do cook with organic ingredients and my one healthy aim is to cut the sugar a bit.  I'm shocked when I look at so many recipes and see the amount of sugar they call for in their recipes.  I find that I can often cut the sugar by at least half and no one even notices.
I made the Caramel Apple Pie that is on the William Sonoma website for us this year.  They called for sugar in the pie crust, sugar in the apples, sugar in the caramel!  That's a LOT of sugar.  So, I have left out the sugar in the crust and the apples and kept the called for amount in the caramel sauce.  On top of that, I use sucanat or rapadura and never use pure white or processed brown sugars, which are devoid of any nutrient value.  I do this because these sugars still retain their mineral content (see more here) and do not cause as significant a spike in the blood sugar levels.  My family enjoys the rich taste that sucanat and rapadura infuse into our foods, so I don't even buy white sugar anymore.
Hope you enjoy this simple holiday tip and have a very happy and yummy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011


I have a recommended read for those who are interested in the health benefits of seaweed, which you can find here.  I became interested in seaweed once we stopped using iodized table salt and switched to unprocessed pink salt, which I buy here and here.

It's amazing all the health benefits that can be derived from seaweed.  It's a very inexpensive way to provide trace minerals and many wonderful health benefits for yourself and your family.  Just be sure that the seaweed you buy is from a clean water source.  I personally would avoid buying any from Japan at this time due to the nuclear spill that happened during the earthquake earlier this year.  Be sure to read the section in Valerie's book about how much seaweed to take and what kinds to take before you buy your supply, as you do want to be careful not to eat too much seaweed.

I bought our seaweed from Mountain Rose Herbs and have stored it in a jars in my pantry.  I alternate the types that we use.  If I cannot hide the taste in food, then I put it in capsules for my husband, which is easy to do and a lot cheaper than buying it already encapsulated.  Mountain Rose Herbs sells a capsule machine that is very inexpensive.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Fresh Cranberry Relish

Be sure to check out the Recipe for the Month!  I have a fabulous, easy, and healthy cranberry relish that has become a Thanksgiving standard.  After you taste this relish, you will never want to bring another canned relish into your home again!

Friday, November 18, 2011

What to Have on Hand to Boost the Immune System For the Holiday Rush!

Thanksgiving week is almost here, which means for most, travel, visiting with family, and a busy schedule.      There are a few easy supplements you can have on hand for this next week:

*Vitamin D - This is a great support to the immune system and since most are not getting their daily dose of sun this time of year, this is critical to take to keep your immune system healthy.

*Elderberry syrup - This is quick and easy to make (here is the recipe that I use).  This can be taken daily throughout the week.

*Echinacea - At the first hint of feeling sick, start to take some echinacea.  Herbs for Kids carries a great brand for children starting at the age of one and Whole Foods sells all kinds of tinctures (the liquid form I recommend for adults- but not pregnant or breastfeeding women due to the alcohol content) of echinacea that you can choose from.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What is Aromatherapy?

Now that I am enrolled to be an aromatherapy practitioner and will be doing posts about Aromatherapy, I thought I would clarify just what aromatherapy is and is not!

Aromatherapy is the medicinal use of PURE essential oils.  Essential oils can be used by a practitioner to heal and help both the physical body and the emotions (which are tied into the health of our physical body).    Essential oils can be used in many different ways including inhalation, dermal (skin) application, massage, and hydrotherapy (placed in water or baths).  The vast number of physical conditions essentials can treat are too numerous to list, but a few popular ones are skin conditions and ulcers, sinus problems, digestive issues, headaches and migraines, muscular problems, and respiratory issues.  Essential oils are also wonderful stress reducers and enhance overall health and wellbeing.  A holistic aromatherapist will treat each client with an individualized blend of essential oils made for their unique needs.

There are so many adulterated and synthetic oils on the market these days that it is very important to distinguish the difference between these and real, organic essential oils.  Adulterated and synthetic oils cannot perform the way that true organic essential oils do, and can actually be harmful to health.  It is very important to make sure you buy your oils from a reputable seller, and buy organic oils if possible, as chemicals can be in concentrated form in essential oils that are not organic.

Over the months to come, I look forward to sharing about essential oils and helping my readers learn how to incorporate them into their lives.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Aromatherapy School...

I am very excited to announce that I am furthering my education by enrolling in the East-West School of Herbal and Aromatic Studies to become a Certified Advanced Aromatherapy Practitioner.  You can read more about aromatherapy and an explanation of what it is here.

Aromatherapy is a powerful healing tool and in some areas of this country is starting to be integrated into the medical arena.  Many countries around the world use aromatherapy as a standard method of care (hoping that will be the case here in the future!).  Aromatherapy can treat all kinds of physical and emotional aliments and is a pleasant form of holistic treatment.  I am looking forward to learning more about it and plan to sit for the board exam offered by NAHA once this degree is completed.

One of my favorite essential oils at this time is lavender.  Lavender has an amazing amount of healing benefits and is used for insomnia, headaches, migraines, anxiety, depression, nervous tension, eczema, muscular aches, colds, infections, flu, whooping cough, bronchitis, increasing blood circulation, killing lice and their nits, burns, sunburn and so much more!  You can read more about its benefits here.

Essential oils, being such powerful tools of healing, need to be used with care and caution.  It is best to consult with an aromatherapist before using essential oils to treat most health issues.

But, don't let that scare you away from them...they can be used in all kinds of massage oils, lotions, air fresheners, homemade perfumes and more, and you will receive health benefits using them in this manner.  Just make sure you are buying your essential oils from a trusted source as adulterated essential oils can actually be harmful to use.  Recipes should also be from reputable sites.  I will be doing many more posts on aromatherapy in the future and will recommend places to buy from and recipes to try.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Seafood to Avoid

I found a helpful article on Yahoo about current seafoods to avoid.  Reading about imported shrimp was especially motivating to never place an imported shrimp in my mouth as long as I live!  Here is the article.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Warm Winter Breakfasts

We all love the smell of cobblers and crisps baking, especially in the winter!  One of our favorite breakfasts has become fruit covered with a crisp or cobbler topping.  Since it's winter time and cold and flu season has begun, I have been working hard to cut back on our sugar intake, since sugar only serve to depress the immune system.  So, I have started to make our breakfast cobblers and crisps without the addition of sugar, and do you know, no one has missed it!
Our culture is so used to very sweet tastes that I think a lot of us have lost the appreciate for the natural sweetness that occurs naturally in foods.  I have been enjoying our breakfasts without the sugar and find that the fruits I use make things sweet enough, especially for breakfast time.
Our breakfast tomorrow is a winter fruit cobbler.  Tonight I chopped up apples,  pears, persimmons, and some plums that we received in our co-op this week and placed them in a large pyrex dish.  Then I made a yogurt soaked biscuit recipe and place those on top.  Lastly, I sprinkled the cobbler with cinnamon, powered anise seed, and allspice on top.  This is able to sit out on the counter over night (covered with saran wrap) and can be popped in the oven first thing in the morning at 375 for about 40 minutes.  Before you know it, your family will awaken to the smell of all those delicious fruits baking and you can know that you are giving your family a nutritious start to their day.

Monday, November 7, 2011


It's fall, which means, time for pomegranates!  These beautiful fruits are a powerful superfood.  They are full of vitamin C, potassium, vit. B 6, and polyphenols (help prevent cellular damage in the body).  Some studies show that they may have 2-3 times the antioxidant power of green tea and red wine.

Though delicious, the seeds can be a challenge to harvest for those who have never cut a fresh pomegranate.  I find that the easiest way to obtain the seeds is to cut the fruit in half and then gently break each half into half.  Then submerge in water, and separate the seeds from the pulp.  That way if seeds are broken, you will not get sprayed by the juice, which can stain.  Make sure you wear old clothes or a large apron.

This year I am going to try to buy 25 pounds from my local co-op.  The seeds can be made into juice or simply frozen for later use.  It may be a lot of work, but the nutritional value and delicious taste is worth the effort.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Mountain Rose Herbs

I buy most of my herbal products from Mountain Rose Herbs.  They have an amazing supply of organic herbs, tinctures, capsules, essential oils, and so much more.  Herbs can be bought in small quantities or ordered in bulk (a great way to save even more dollars and helpful to do with friends).  The prices are very reasonable and they offer great customer service.  I have always been happy with my products.

Mountain Rose herbs also offers a monthly newsletter full of great information and recipes.  Here is a copy of this months.  I am looking forward to making a few herbal sleep pillows to cozy up to this winter and trying the curried sweet potato soup.  The newsletter is free, so sign up!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Sadly, I suffered a miscarriage and subsequent D&C last week, thus the lack of posting once again.  I thought I would take some time to share some remedies that have physically and emotionally helped me through the recovery process.

*Recovery Tea:  I have been making a daily recovery tea.  It has consisted of these herbs: red raspberry leaf (this I put in daily), alternate days with either nettle or oatstraw, lemon balm (used daily), and cinnamon.  The red raspberry is a uterine tonic and helps to balance hormones - I have been surprised how quickly my post-op bleeding has been tapering down (I actually started drinking this right when I found out I had miscarried).  Nettle and oatstraw are very nourishing, nutrient rich herbs which help with the healing process.  Lemon balm is a nervine; it calms the nervous system and helps balance emotions.  Cinnamon is a circulatory aid and will help the circulate blood to the uterus to encourage the healing process.  I will continue this tea for about 3-4 weeks post-op.

*Vitex:  I have made a simple tea with vitex berries.  I drink a cup daily  Vitex can take about 3 months to really kick in, but it is an excellent hormone balancer, working on the endocrine system to obtain balance.  It does not contain hormones.

*Milk Thistle Tincture:  Milk thistle seed is an amazing herb that can heal and actually help to regenerate nerve tissue.  I have been taking this daily to help protect my liver from all the medications it was exposed to during surgery and to help support it as it is processing all the extra hormones in my system.

*Partridgeberry: I have ordered some of this herb and will start it as soon as it arrives.  It's a great complement to raspberry leaf and can be brewed with my recovery tea.  It also helps to balance the reproductive system.

*Chamomile:  This tea I brewed the first few nights post-op to help me sleep.  I made sure to use loose flower heads and it was a wonderful sleep aid.

*Blood purifying mix:  In a few weeks when I am feeling better, I will be adding a daily does of tea that has yellow dock root, burdock root, and dandelion root.  This combo will continue to help support the liver process and rid my body of extra hormones.  It's also a good blood purifying mix.

*Homeopathics:  I have been using a number of homeopathics including arnica montana (helps reduce soreness and bruising), hypericum perf. (helps with nerve injury), pulsatilla (helps balance emotions), Wise's Pain Tablets #417 (helps with hypersensitivity to pain and emotion), and a number of Bach Flower Remedies to help with emotions and stress; rescue remedy, aspen, hornbeam, olive, and mimulus.  I think the first two remedies really helped control pain as I only needed one ibuprofen follow my surgery.  I was surprised by the lack of discomfort I had.  I started the homeopathic remedies the day before the surgery.

*Noni Lavender Lotion: one of my all time favorite remedies.  I rubbed this on all the sore muscles after surgery including my back, tummy, and neck.  The evening after surgery, I started having tingling in my face, probably from how they positioned my neck while the procedure was done.  I rubbed this lotion on the tingling areas and within a few hours they were gone.

*Rest:  I was blessed to have my mom here for the first 6 days.  I tried to avoid the stairs at all costs and staying off my feet as much as I could.  This has helped so much.  I am also avoiding any heavy lifting, including my toddler for a few weeks.

*Supplements:  I continue to take a blood builder to keep me from becoming anemic; it also includes kelp which helps to balance hormones.  I take cod liver oil and an adrenal supplement.  I have continued my green's mix and colostrum.  I have added wild bee pollen which helps with immunity and balancing the reproductive system.  I also have continued with my liquid B supplement and have added to that a green tea nano supplement.

*Bone Broths:  I have been taking homemade chicken broth or beef broth daily, as these are great sources of nutrients and aid in the healing process.

*Accupuncture:  I will be starting up some accupuncture in a week, which I did before and during my first pregnancy which bore me my wonderful and precious son.

Thank you for your patience as I have not been able to keep up with my posting schedule.  I hope to resume my normal posting schedule in a few weeks.