elderberry syrup

Elderberry Syrup: Why My Family Takes it in Lieu of a Flu Shot Every Year (and How to Make your Own).

Elderberry syrup is one of the most important tools in my home apothecary for keeping my family healthy when there are colds and flus flying around. We take it almost daily during the sickness season and completely forgo the flu shot. Let me outline a comparison between elderberry syrup and the flu shot to illustrate why we do this. At the bottom of this post is a printable recipe so that you can make your own Elderberry syrup.

Elderberry syrup:

  • is proven against 10 strains of the flu.
  • shortens the duration of both colds and flus. 
  • works with your body’s immune system to boost your natural immune response. 
  • contains vitamins A, B, and C.
  • has NO risks associated with it. 

If you are curious and would like to read the studies on elderberry where this information comes from, go here, here, and here

The flu shot:

  • is only effective against 3 or 4 flu strains. 
  • ranges from 19%-48% effectiveness depending on the year. 
  • is less effective in the people who need the protection the most, the elderly and children. 
  • carries risks, such as seizure, facial palsy, encephalomyelitis, convulsions. There are even 115 reported cases of death. 
  • contains aluminum, ethlymercury, and antibiotics. Read about these and the other undesirable ingredients in flu shots here.



If you are curious and would like to read the studies where this information about the flu comes from, go here, and here

I’m sold on Elderberry Syrup! Now what?

Okay, so you want to avoid the flu shot and take elderberry syrup instead, right? Well, you can buy it online, in your favorite health store, or even many drug stores and grocery stores. I recommend getting an organic version, of course. Natures’s Way and Gaia have good ones that can be found on Amazon. They come in 8 or 4 ounce bottles. It is also easy to make your own elderberry syrup. When you make your own elderberry syrup, you can customize the flavor a bit. Depending on what you like, you can add other immune enhancing ingredients such as ginger, clove, cinnamon, fennel, and/or cardamom. You can buy a pound of dried organic elderberries for about $20. This will last you ages, because you only use 3/4 of a cup per batch. Plus, your house will smell amazing while you area making it! 

How to make Elderberry Syrup for cold and flu prevention:

elderberry syrup

Directions:

  • Put the elderberries, water, and spices (except fennel) in a pot.
  • Bring it to a boil.
  • Turn the heat down to simmer (usually medium-low).
  • Once the mixture is reduced by half, remove from heat and let cool. Strain out the berries/spices. Be sure to squish out the berries to get all the goodness out of them. You can do this with a wooden spoon and a sieve or pour the mixture through cheesecloth so that you can use your hands to squeeze it out.
  • Once the mixture is about room temperature (or just above), you can mix in the honey. Honey has beneficial enzymes and microbes that can be killed by heat, so just be patient.
  • Transfer to a glass container that is easy to pour from. I use pretty flip-top bottle like these and put a waterproof label on it. Keep it refrigerated. This recipe makes about 2 and half cups.  

Should I add other spices? What do the other spices do?

  • Ginger: anti-inflammatory. Also good for settling upset tummies and helps the body sweat our toxins. I always add a knob of ginger, thinly sliced, to the berries before bringing to a boil. 
  • Cinnamon: antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and contains antioxidants. (Also balances blood sugar.) I usually add one cinnamon stick to the berries before bringing to a boil. 
  • Clove: antimicrobial and antiviral. Clove is a strong flavor, so I usually just add 2 or 3 cloves to the berries before boiling.
  • Fennel: boosts white blood cells, is antibacterial and anti-fungal. My kids are super sensitive to the licorice-y taste of fennel, so I do not add it to our elderberry (syrup at this time). I add fennel to my morning tea blend, so at least I get it that way. My recommendations for adding it to elderberry syrup are to put 1/2-1 teaspoon into the berry mixture just in the last few minutes of simmering.
  • Cardamom: helps clear congestion from colds, settles digestion and is antispasmodic (this is good for coughs and stomach cramps.) I love cardamom! I add cardamom seeds to my morning tea blend as well. For elderberry syrup, I add a few cardamom pods to the berries before bringing to a boil. 

Tips for adding Elderberry syrup to your home apothecary:

  • Elderberry is great for hiding things in! We put our virgin cod liver oil in ours. My kids drink it up and look forward to it!
  • The standard dose for a child is 1/2 teaspoon daily and 1/2 tablespoon for adults.
  • If you or a family member is coming down with something, bump up the dose to 3 or 4 times a day. 
  • I add echinacea tincture (go here to find out how to make your own tinctures) to the elderberry if one of us seems to be coming down with something. 
  • Don’t freak out if you miss a day or two here and there. That is actually a good thing. I subscribe to the sentiment that you really shouldn’t take anything every day. I like to take weekends off from most supplements. 

I have to take the flu shot for work. Is there anything I can do to help my body detox those dangerous ingredients?

If you are required to get a flu shot because of your line of work, you can help speed your body’s recovery and detox by eating “clean” and taking one or more of the following:

Milk Thistle: Your liver has a huge job on any given day with the onslaught of modern toxins, but after a flu shot, it can’t hurt to give it a little extra help. Milk thistle is a great liver protective that also boost the liver’s detoxifying capabilities. It can be found in capsules, tea, and tinctures

Dandelion Root: This is another great detoxifier. Read more here. It can be found in capsules, tea, and tinctures.  There is a fun coffee substitute with dandelion root called Dandy Blend

Chlorella: This amazing algae binds to metals in your body and helps escort them out. This is particularly helpful for shots with mercury or aluminum added to them. Be sure to get “broken cell wall” chlorella so that your body can actually use it. 

 

 

Elderberry Syrup
Tasty elderberry syrup for cold and flu prevention and treatment.
Print
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. 3/4 cup dried organic elderberries
  2. filtered water
  3. optional spices: ginger, cinnamon, fennel, cloves, and/or cardamom pods or seeds
  4. one cup raw honey, organic
Instructions
  1. Put the elderberries, water, and spices (except fennel) in a pot. Bring it to a boil.
  2. Turn the heat down to medium- low to simmer.
  3. Once the mixture is reduced by half, remove from heat, let cool, and then strain out the berries/spices. Be sure to squish out the berries to get all the goodness out of them. You can do this with a wooden spoon and a sieve or pour the mixture through cheesecloth so that you can use your hands to squeeze it out.
  4. Be sure to let the liquid cool down before you touch it and before you add the honey. Honey has beneficial enzymes and microbes that can be killed by heat, so just be patient.
  5. Once the mixture is about room temperature (or just above), you can mix in the honey.
  6. Transfer to a glass container that is easy to pour from. I use pretty flip-top bottle like these and put a waterproof label on it. Keep it refrigerated. This recipe makes a bit more than 2 cups.
Notes
  1. Kids take 1/2 teaspoon a day for prevention and 1/2 teaspoon 3 times a day during a cold or flu for treatment. Adults take 1/2 tablespoon a day for prevention and 1/2 tablespoon 3 times a day during a cold or flu for treatment.
Reclaiming Vitality http://reclaimingvitality.com/
 Have you ever used elderberry syrup? Have you tried making your own?

 

Fermented Garlic

Fermented Garlic: Your Dragon Glass for this Winter’s War

Ok. I truly hate to be the one to bring this up while we are all enjoying a beautiful summer, but…Winter Is Coming! We need a stockpile of “dragon glass” (aka fermented garlic) to win the war against colds, sinus infections, flus, bronchitis, and stomach bugs this sickness season. (If you’re not a Game Of Thrones fan, I apologize, but I just couldn’t resist.) Even though I believe a crucial part of being healthy is being present in the moment, this, of course, has to be balanced with preparation for the future, something I failed at last year because “winter” came early. 

Last winter:

Last winter was a doozy for us here in the pacific northwest, especially my little household! I can usually get through the winter with a cold or two (and rarely a GI bug), but not last winter. My littlest one started preschool and brought home every sniffle and flu. Every single one. I had meant to make this fermented garlic, but the season started off with a bang in September, and if I wasn’t sick myself, I was caring for a sick child (or two). I had my usual arsenal of homemade echinacea tincture (go here to learn how to make your own tinctures), elderberry syrup, raw cod liver oil, and kraut juice (this one was our savior), but I feel like if I had had the fermented garlic, I could have prevented more of the colds or nipped them in the bud before they took me (and my family) down.  

This summer:

Fast forward to this beautiful, sunny summer day, and I am starting my preparations for the winter to come. The first item on my list is to stockpile fermented garlic for my family and friends. With fermented garlic, you get the benefits of raw garlic multiplied without the drawbacks such as garlic breath and garlic sweat. I am sensitive to the smell of raw garlic on my breath or through my skin, but fermented garlic and cooked garlic are fine. Although cooked garlic is good for you, it doesn’t hold a candle to raw garlic, and can’t even come close to being compared with fermented garlic. As always, I would love to break down the nutrition for you in my attempt to convince you to make this for your family as well.  



Fermented Raw Garlic:

Garlic Cloves

  • Is powerfully antibacterial. It has been shown to be effective against drug resistant bacteria. 
  • Is anti-fungal, and antiviral. It can not only prevent colds and flus but also lessen the severity and duration. It has been shown to be particularly effective in inhibiting the growth of bacteria in the GI tract and lungs. This is due to the high allicin content. 
  • Is loaded with probiotics to support your microbiome
  • Lowers blood pressure and protects against heart disease
  • Balances cholesterol levels by lowering bad cholesterol
  • Contains protective antioxidants
  • Promotes healthy blood sugar levels and can even help with diabetes
  • Has anti-cancer properties
  • Reduces yeast infections such as Candida
  • Can reduce build up of plaque in the arteries
  • Removes heavy metals, such as mercury, from the body
  • Is helpful for ulcerative colitis

To make one quart of fermented garlic you will need:

  • 12-14 heads of garlic, peeled
  • 2 T sea salt
  • One quart mason jar
  • Airlock lid (optional)
  • herbs (optional) Some good and tasty antibacterial and antiviral herbs are oregano and rosemary.
  • Optional: starter culture (if you use starter culture, you will want to reduce the amount of salt.)

First, to peel the garlic, start by smashing one head with the heel of your hand. Next, place the cloves in between two bowls and shake, shake, shake!! (Metal bowls are really the only way to go here. Borrow them if you have to. You don’t want to peel this many cloves with a paring knife or even one of those rollers. ) Your garlic head should be peeled. Continue on with the rest of your garlic heads.

Second, fill your clean quart jar with your peeled garlic. Leave at least one inch of headspace. Next, pour your salt water (or dissolved culture plus salt water) over your peeled garlic. Add any herbs such as rosemary or oregano. Top with a fermentation weight. Leave out of direct sunlight for at least 3 or 4 weeks. The longer it ferments, the more powerful it gets and the milder it tastes. A win, win in my book. I prefer it to have a more mild roasted garlic flavor. You can ferment it much longer than 4 weeks if you like. 

 

Fermented Garlic
Fermented garlic to prevent and lessen the severity of colds and flus.
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 12-14 heads of garlic, peeled
  2. 2 T sea salt
  3. One quart mason jar
  4. Airlock lid (optional)
  5. herbs (optional)
  6. Optional: starter culture (if you use starter culture, you will want to reduce the amount of salt.)
Instructions
  1. First, to peel the garlic, start by smashing one head with the heel of your hand. Next, place the cloves in between two bowls (metal is best) and shake, shake, shake!! Your garlic head should be peeled. Continue on with the rest of your garlic heads.
  2. Second, fill your clean quart jar with your peeled garlic. Leave at least one inch of headspace. Next, pour your salt water (or dissolved culture plus salt water) over your peeled garlic. Add any herbs such as rosemary or oregano. Top with a fermentation weight. Leave out of direct sunlight for at least 3 or 4 weeks. The longer it ferments, the more powerful it gets and the milder it tastes. A win, win in my book. I prefer it to have a roasted garlic flavor. You can ferment it much longer than 4 weeks if you like.
Reclaiming Vitality http://reclaimingvitality.com/

Fermented Garlic

How should I use my fermented garlic?

  • First, you can just chomp on a clove if you feel a cold coming on. I would probably follow that with some elderberry syrup mixed with echinacea tincture a few times a day. Mixing fermented garlic with raw honey is another (tastier) possibility. Raw honey has it’s own host of benefits when it comes to fighting colds and flus. You can’t go wrong with a bit of kraut juice either. 
  • Second, use your fermented garlic preventatively in cooking. (This will probably be the easiest way to get it in your children if you have them.) I prefer to use it in unheated dishes so that I don’t kill the probiotics. Some ideas are white bean dip, hummus, salsas, salad dressings, garlic butter, and pesto. Basically, anywhere you would use raw garlic or roasted garlic should work.Be sure to save the garlic brine after all the garlic is used up. It is great to use in dressings or marinades.

 

Have you had fermented garlic before? If so, did you ferment it yourself? What did you think?

 

 

Holy Basil

Lower Stress Hormones and Boost Energy with Holy Basil (aka Tulsi)

Holy Basil tea has been a part of my evening ritual again for the past few weeks. I discovered it last summer and drank a lot of it, but then I couldn’t find it in loose leaf form for about 6 months and so I got out of the habit of drinking it. Finally, I found it again, but I decided that I needed to start growing it so that I would always have a secure supply on hand. It is THAT good. Luckily it is very easy to grow. (You can find seeds here if you decide to grow it.) The pictures are from my Holy Basil plants that are just starting to flower. If you’re still reading, you are probably wondering just what is so awesome about this Holy Basil plant, right? Well, I am just thrilled to answer you! Read on, my friend.

Holy Basil Flowering

Holy Basil (aka Tulsi) is an adaptogenic herb. An adaptogenic herb is an herb that “adapts” to your needs. How cool is that? It will lower your cortisol levels (stress hormones), but only if you need it. If you don’t need it, it doesn’t do it. It promotes a feeling of calm and well-being. Just smelling the plant or the dried leaves relaxes me in a similar way that smelling lavender or chamomile does. It also gives you energy at the same time it relaxes you. I am not talking about caffeine-like energy but real energy from within. Here are a few more benefits for you.

Benefits of Holy Basil:

  • Boost immunity
  • Antiviral
  • Antibacterial
  • Anti-fungal
  • Liver protective
  • Strengthens cardiovascular system
  • Normalizes blood sugar
  • Great for healing respiratory issues such as bronchitis, tuberculosis, and asthma.
  • Excellent for oral health. 
  • Effects mood, memory and cognitive function positively.
  • Detoxifier and mild diuretic. Holy Basil is great for kidney issues such as kidney stones and gout because it helps the body excrete uric acid.
  • Insect repellent
  • Heals skin lesions and many diseases.
  • Is taken as a tonic in India to maintain youthful skin and lengthen life span. 
  • Protects from radiation damage
  • Lowers fevers
  • Lowers cortisol levels if they are too high (as stated above).
  • Boosts energy (as stated above).

 



Things to do with Holy Basil:

Holy Basil

  • Make Holy Basil tea: Holy Basil makes a very tasty tea alone or blended with some of your other favorite herbal flavors. I love to mix it with dried ginger. Teas are my favorite way to consume this herb. I try to get at least one large tea cup full of it daily. Steep it covered for 10-15 minutes to get the most out of your Holy Basil. (As with most herbs, the longer you steep, the more medicinal the flavor. If you are just starting out, try 10 minutes at first and work your way up if you like.) Organic India has a whole line of flavored Holy Basil teas. Sweet Rose is my favorite, but they have Turmeric Ginger, Lemon Ginger, Green, Chai, and a Sleep Combo. 
  • Make or buy a tincture: This provides a more concentrated dose than tea and is a very portable option. Go here for a tutorial on tincture making. 
  • Make an herbal vinegar (either medicinal or culinary): Fill a mason jar 3/4 of the way with fresh Holy Basil Leaves (pack them down). Fill the jar with Raw Apple Cider Vinegar. Put a lid on the jar and shake it. Let sit for 3 or 4 weeks. When it is ready, strain out the leaves and keep the vinegar! You can use this to make salad dressing, or to drink before meals (a tablespoon in a cup of water 15-20 minutes before meals.)

 

If you are interested in learning more about common herbs that you can grow and use safely, I recommend Rosemary Gladstar’s book Medicinal Herbs, A Beginner’s Guide. It is awesome!

If you want to more about adaptogenic herbs, I recommend Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief by David Winston. Also Awesome.

 

 

Do you drink or use Holy Basil? If not, are you going to start?

 

 

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm: Calms Anxiety, Encourages Restful Sleep, Fights Viruses and More!

Meet the lovely lemon balm! This relative to mint is so easy to grow; you can basically put it in the ground and forget about it. (If you don’t have space, you can grow it in a container and water it when you water your house plants.)

Lemon balm is a miracle worker for us humans and a favorite of the bees. It is completely safe for adults and children. In fact, it used to be a combined with chamomile and dill as common colic remedy for fussy babies. Made as a tea, it is so tasty! If you are interested in learning more about herbal remedies, Rosemary Gladstar has an excellent introductory book called Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide. I highly recommend it!

Note: If you have an under-active thyroid or Hashimoto’s, it is best to use this herb only under the guidance of a trusted health care professional as it is considered a thyroid suppressant, for everyone else, enjoy!

Use lemon balm for:

  • viral infections (especially effective against coldsores, shingles, etc.)
  • bacterial infections
  • restless sleep
  • hyperactive children
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • heart disease
  • heart ache
  • nervous disorders

How to use lemon balm:

  • As a culinary herb:

    Use lemon balm in salads, smoothies, and other dishes where you would put mint in.

  • Lemon balm tea:

    You can steep the fresh or dried leaves with hot water. About 10 minutes will give you a pleasant drinking tea. If you want a more medicinal tea, let it steep for longer. Feel free to add other herbs depending on what you are trying to accomplish.

    • Relaxing tea: lemon balm with chamomile, lavender, and or holy basil
    • Antiviral tea: lemon balm and licorice

     



  • lemon balm tincture:

    A tincture is a good way to get a high dose of lemon balm (or another herb) into your body for an acute situation, such as the onset of a flu or cold sore. They only take a few minutes to prepare, but you will have to wait at least a few weeks for it to be ready. Go here for a tutorial on how to make you own tincture, or you can buy a ready made tincture to have on hand such as those by Herb Pharm.

  • Lemon Balm Bath:

    Add at least 1/2 cup fresh or dried herbs to cheesecloth or a strainer and secure it to the tub faucet under hot running water for the first few minutes. Next, adjust the water to a comfortable temperature. Feel free to add other herbs such as lavender or chamomile if desired.  

 

Lemon Balm

 

Do you use lemon balm? Are you going to try it?

Homemade Tincture

Homemade Tinctures: How and Why to Make them

Homemade tinctures are as easy to make as putting herbs and alcohol in a glass jar and waiting! Should I back up and remind you what a tincture is first? A tincture is a highly concentrated extract of herbs. Tinctures provides a concentrated dose of the herb which can be taken by the dropper and mixed into water or juice.

Why use a tincture?

There are a few reasons to take a tincture. First, a tincture is good for herbs that are not very tasty and you would not be able to suffer through a cup of tea made from them. Second, it is good for roots and barks that are harder to get the active constituents out by hot water steeping. Third, you can use a tincture to simply save time. Maybe you would need to drink 3 cups of an herbal tea (also called a tisane) but instead can take a dropper full of the tincture in juice or water three times a day. They can especially be good for children who may not want to drink a whole cup of tea. Third, tinctures are good for acute situations, such as the onset of the flu or a cold sore, where you want to get a lot of an herb into your body quickly. 

Why make a homemade tincture?

Homemade Tincture Bottles

There are two main reasons to make your own tinctures. First, they are so much less expensive. Second, you can control the ingredients. I like to use organic herbs and organic alcohol for instance. Those who are grain-free could choose a grain-free alcohol. If you have to avoid alcohol completely, you can make your tincture with raw apple cider vinegar.

 

How to make a HOmemade tincture

As stated above, making homemade tinctures is as simple as putting herbs in a jar and covering the with alcohol. You use different amounts of herbs depending on whether you are using fresh or dried herbs and whether you are using  the leaves/flowers or the roots/bark/berries. Also, if you are using fresh herbs, you will need to chop them first to release the juices. If you are using dried, you can just add the alcohol. 

To make a tincture you will need:

  • Organic Herbs (leaves and/or flowers or roots, bark, and/or berries)
  • 80-100 proof alcohol such as vodka or brandy
  • Glass jars
  • Glass droppers (If you don’t have any, you can buy them on Amazon, of course.)
  • Cheesecloth (unbleached and organic is best) for straining out herbs

If you are using leaves and/or flowers:

  • Fill your jar 2/3 to 3/4 full of your chopped fresh leaves and flowers. Next, fill the jar to the top with your alcohol. The herbs need to be submerged in the alcohol.  
  • Or fill you jar with 1/2 to 3/4 with dried leaves and flowers.Next, fill the jar to the top with your alcohol. The herbs need to be submerged in the alcohol.

If you are using roots, bark, and/or berries:

  • Fill your jar 1/3 to 1/2 full of your chopped fresh leaves and flowers. Next, fill the jar to the top with your alcohol. The herbs need to be submerged in the alcohol. 
  • Or fill you jar with 1/4 to 1/3 with dried leaves and flowers.Next, fill the jar to the top with your alcohol. The herbs need to be submerged in the alcohol.

Storing and Using your homemade tinctures

Store your herb/alcohol mixture in a cool, dark place where you will remember to shake it several times a week for 6-8 weeks, or a sunny warm location for 4-6 weeks. Watch the level of alcohol. If some of it evaporates, you will need to add more. The herbs must be submerged in alcohol or there is the possibility of introducing mold into your tincture. Yuck!

After the requisite waiting period, strain the herbs through the cheesecloth and compost them. Bottle your tincture in clean glass jars or bottles (dark glass is best). Label them!! These will keep for many years in a cool, dark place!!!

The usual dosage for an adult is 2 droppers full 3 times a day for an acute situation, i.e. a cold coming on. For children, consult a trusted pediatrician. 

Which homemade tinctures should you make?

Of course this answer depends on what ailment you are trying to treat or prevent. A great introductory book is called Medicinal herbs: A Beginner’s guide by Rosemary Gladstar. My favorite homemade tinctures to make are echinacea and olive leaf. Both are great for the immune system. As you probably know, echinacea tincture is superb when taken at the onset of a cold or flu. Olive leaf tincture is an amazing antiviral so it is good for sinus infections and ear infections (both of which have a 90% viral origin), as well as other viral infections. You can make combination tinctures as well. The possibilities are endless. Happy homemade tincture-making!

 

Homemade Tincture

 

Do you make homemade tinctures? Do you want to try?

Magnesium Deficiency

Do You Have a Magnesium Deficiency?

It is estimated that 80-90% of Americans have a magnesium deficiency. Are you one of them? Let me help you figure that out.

Things that contribute to a magnesium Deficiency:

  • Eating things containing refined sugar and/or corn syrup (both high fructose and regular)
  • Eating refined grains such as white flour, white rice, etc.
  • Eating packaged and/or processed food
  • Not getting enough sleep 
  • Consuming 8 or more alcoholic beverages per week (or binge drink)
  • Eating a high protein diet
  • Not consuming your recommended veggie allowance (especially if you are missing dark leafy greens)
  • Being stressed 
  • Having been sick recently
  • Getting sick frequently
  • Eating fast food
  • Eating non-organic dairy
  • Eating a semi-decent diet but don’t supplement with magnesium
  • Not eating grains, seeds, nuts, or legumes
  • Eating meat that is not pastured/grass-fed (especially lunch meat and hot dogs)
  • Drinking a lot of coffee (decaf or regular) or black or green tea
  • Drinking soda or juice (pasteurized) Bye Bye juice boxes for kids!!!!
  • Using iodized salt
  • Drinking water that has with chlorine and/or fluoride in it

As you can see, this list encompasses most of the country. This rampant deficiency is so important to rectify!! If you have been reading my blog, you have probably heard me mention magnesium numerous times. I promised a full post on the benefits of this mineral in my 10 ways to Sneak Nutrients into your Diet without Taking a Pill post and here it finally is!! In preparation for this post, I re-read Carolyn Dean’s The Magnesium Miracle. I highly recommend this book. It is hard to believe that there is 250 pages of information regarding this mineral, but there is and it is well worth reading! There is a section on each disorder/disease with the scientific information on how a magnesium deficiency can be the cause of or exacerbate the disorder. If you have any of the disorders below, or even just a family history, you should read the book, paying special attention to your section.

Problems that Can be caused or exacerbated by a magnesium deficiency:

  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Asthma
  • Insomnia
  • Migraines and Pain
  • Cholesterol and Hypertension
  • Heart Disease
  • Obesity and Syndrome X
  • Insulin Resistance and Diabetes
  • PMS
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (POS)
  • Infertility
  • Dysmenorrhea (painful menstrual cramps)
  • Preeclampsia and Eclampsia
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • SIDS
  • Osteoporosis
  • Bladder incontinence (not having full control of your bladder at all times and needing to pee frequently during the night) 
  • Kidney Stones
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Premature Aging and Alzheimer’s

Why are we magnesium deficient?

Although our poor diet is the largest contributing factor to this problem, it is not the only factor. Despite the fact that Americans eat such a poor diet, with around 25% of our calories coming from junk food and 90% of our food budget on processed food, we also have to contend with soil depletion and erosion. Even if you do eat a great diet by making most of your food at home and eating plenty of fresh veggies, nuts, and seeds, you might still be magnesium deficient because the food you are eating has significantly less magnesium than the food your great-grandma ate. What are we to do?

How should I correct my magnesium Deficiency?

Eat a diet high in magnesium-rich foods:

The good news if that you have been eating to feed your microbiome and get resistant starch, a lot of those same foods are high in magnesium. Some magnesium rich foods include:

      • Dark leafy greens such as kale
      • Wheat germ and bran
      • Buckwheat
      • Nuts such as brazil nuts, cashews, and pecans
      • Molasses
      • Some of your best magnesium providers can be found in your yard or garden such as nettles, cilantro, chickweed, dandelion.
      • Kelp powder and Dulse (seaweed) are also a good sources.
      • Avoid anything processed, refined, or fried, especially fast food. 
      • Choose organic pastured meat and dairy. 
      • Get 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
      • Manage your stress with exercise, meditation, yoga, or whatever works for you.
      • Avoid over-the-counter and prescription medications when there is a viable option.
      • Avoid refined sugar and refined sugar products.
      • Avoid sodas and pasteurized juices. 

Supplement with magnesium oil:

Transdermal (through your skin) supplementation is the safest method. Your skin will only absorb the amount  magnesium that you need. This eliminates the possible colon flush that can come with taking oral doses of magnesium. Sprays such as Ancient Minerals have a 25% concentration. This means that each spray has 13-18 mg. The recommended dose is 3-4.5 mg per pound of body weight. So a female weighing 140 pounds would take 420-630 mg a day. She needs to spray 24-36 sprays a day. Be sure to choose the fattiest parts of your body for spraying. When you are deficient, the spray has an uncomfortable tingle. That tingle is worse if you spray it on a bony part of your body such as an ankle. You need to leave the spray on for about 30 minutes to be sure that it absorbs. You could do half of your sprays in the morning when you wake up and then shower after 30 minutes. In the evening, the magnesium helps you sleep if you do it at least a half an hour before sleep. If it is too tingly, wash it off before going to bed. You can also create a magnesium roller for your feet with magnesium oil and essential oils to aid sleep. 

Supplement with epsom salt baths and/or magnesium flake baths:

Again, transdermal  supplementation is the safest. Enjoy a nice hot bath with magnesium flakes or epsom salts. The flakes have a higher concentration of magnesium (5 times as much), but the epsom salts are detoxifying. I like to combine them. I use Ancient Minerals  magnesium flakes and Dr.Teal’s epsom salts (I buy the plain and add my own essential oils). I try to take a magnesium bath a couple of times a week (unless it is summer and too hot).

Supplement with oral magnesium:

If you do choose an oral dose, Dean recommends magnesium citrate. Follow the instructions on the bottle. We supplement with Calm after being sick or engaging in another activity that depletes magnesium.

Magnesium Deficiency

 

Do you think you are probably deficient? Do you supplement with magnesium? Did you notice health changes after your started? I would love to hear from you!

Tiger Nut "Corn" Bread

Tiger Nut “Corn” bread: A Delicious Way to get your Resistant Starch (Gluten-free, Grain-free, Corn-free)

Although there is no corn in this cornbread-like tiger nut bread, it is tasty and loaded with resistant starch! If you haven’t yet heard of the importance of resistant starch, go here. If you have, then you are probably hoping to find some easy ways to incorporate resistant starch into your diet to feed your microbiome. Well here you go, my friend. First though, indulge me while I breakdown the other benefits of tiger nuts for you. 🙂

Tiger NutS:

  • Are not a nut but a tuber.
  • Contain resistant starch to feed the bacteria in your colon (as stated above)
  • Are full of antioxidants
  • Contain a ton of fiber (10 grams per serving) 
  • Are antibacterial
  • are a good source of iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, and B6

Quick note: If you are experiencing a gluten sensitivity, are Celiac, or just like to rotate your grains seasonally like we try to do, you can rest easy because this recipe is gluten-free. If you make this bread with buckwheat flour instead of brown rice flour, it will also be grain-free. As stated above, there isn’t actually any corn in this recipe either. We call it tiger nut “corn” bread because the gritty texture of the tiger nut flour is reminiscent of the grittiness of corn bread. We like to top this bread with cultured honey butter!

Tiger Nut “Corn” Bread Recipe (gluten-free)

  • 2/3 cup tiger nut flour
  • 1 cup buckwheat flour (or you van use rice flour if you aren’t grain-free)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 3 pastured eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup non-homogenized grass-fed milk or milk substitute (coconut milk works well)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 6 tablespoons melted grass-fed butter, plus 2 more for pan
  1. Preheat oven to 400 and put your cast iron skillet in to preheat.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Add wet ingredients and mix.
  4. Take skillet out of oven and add a couple of tablespoons of butter and melt it.
  5. Pour batter into hot cast iron skillet. Bake for 15 minutes.
Tiger Nut "Corn" Bread
A corn bread like tasty treat full of resistant starch.
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 2/3 cup tiger nut flour
  2. 1 cup rice flour (brown or white) (Use Acadian Buckwheat for grain-free version)
  3. 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  4. 2 tablespoons baking powder
  5. 3 pastured eggs, lightly beaten
  6. 1 cup milk or milk substitute
  7. 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  8. 6 tablespoons melted grass-fed butter or ghee, plus 2 more for pan
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 and put your cast iron skillet in to preheat.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Add wet ingredients and mix.
  4. Take skillet out of oven and add a couple of tablespoons of butter and melt it.
  5. Pour batter into hot cast iron skillet. Bake for 15 minutes.
Reclaiming Vitality http://reclaimingvitality.com/

Tiger Nut "Corn" Bread

 

Are you gluten-free or grain-free and looking forward to tasting something like corn bread again? 

Resistant Starch

Resistant Starch: What is it, Why You Need it, and How to Get it

Resistant starch (RS) is yet another area where the Standard American Diet (SAD) is lacking. Americans average just 3-9 grams of resistant starch a day. Whole foods, plant based diets in developing countries get around 30-40 grams per day. Some experts believe our paleo ancestors consumed about 135 grams per day by eating tubers, roots, medicinal tree barks, and other wild plant foods. 

Why are we so deficient? Aside from not hunting and gathering and chewing on roots and barks along the way, we’ve also refined the resistant starch right out of our diet. We eat quick cooking rolled oats instead of whole or split oat groats soaked and cooked, we eat white bread instead of whole wheat sourdough, we eat meat, meat, and more meat, instead of seeds and legumes. You get the idea.  Ok, so you get that we are lacking, right? Now let me tell you what resistant starch is, how it can help you, and how to get it without going out and munching on your trees. 

WHAT IS RESISTANT STARCH (RS)?

RS is a type of fiber (carbohydrate) that doesn’t get digested. In other words, it “resists” being digested. Once it reaches the colon, the bacteria there “digest” it for you, thereby feeding an important part of your microbiome. Feeding these bacteria in your colon produces short chain fatty acids. (specifically butyrate, acetate, and propionate)

These short chain fatty acids:

  • increase the blood flow to your colon
  • slow the growth of pathogenic bacteria
  • help you absorb minerals
  • prevent you from absorbing toxic compounds
  • increase the amount of nutrients circulating in your microbiome

What does all this translate to? Continue reading, my friend.

What Can resiStant starch do for you?

Feeding the bacteria in your colon with RS:

  • Improves your digestion (It can help with IBS, constipation, diverticulitis, and ulcerative colitis.)
  • Reduces your appetite thereby aiding in weight loss
  • Balances blood sugar levels
  • Can correct insulin sensitivity
  • Improve your immunity
  • Can give you more vivid dreams. Pretty awesome benefit if you ask me.  (Go here if you want to learn more)

All this sounds great, right? So, where do you get this stuff?

4 Types of Resistant Starch:

  1. Grains (whole wheat, brown rice, barley, etc.), seeds (sunflower, flax, buckwheat, etc.), legumes (beans, peas, lentils, etc.), and roots such as Tiger Nuts.
  2. Starchy fruits and vegetables such as unripe bananas, plantains, and raw potatoes. (You can buy these last two in powdered form, but I don’t recommend it.)
  3. Cooked and then cooled starches such as rice,  potatoes, and bread. (Think sushi rice and potato salad.) AKA “retrograded starch”
  4. Man-made (yuck)

As always, the best way to get your resistant starch is through your diet, not supplementation. Our diet benefits greatly from variety! If you buy bags and bags of potato starch and add it to your water, yes, you will increase your resistant starch intake, but you will not only lose out on important vitamin/mineral combinations in other foods containing resistant starch, but also on different protective benefits from different types of resistant starch. Different types of resistant starch are thought to help different areas of the colon. Wow! Go here for more information.

Some of the ways we get our resistant starch in my family:

Things to keep in mind

  • Somewhere between 30-45 grams of RS is a good target
  • RS is best increased slowly to avoid digestive discomfort
  • It should be consumed as part of a regular meal
  • It is best to consume RS in its whole food form 

Resistant Starch

Do you get enough resistant starch? Are you going to try to increase your intake?

 

 

Kraut

Three Easy Ways to Add Fermented Foods to Your Daily Diet and a Basic Kraut Recipe

You have probably heard that fermented foods like kraut (sauerkraut) are full of probiotics and that probiotics feed the good bacteria in your gut or microbiome. Now the question is how to get them into your daily routine so that they become a habit. You are much more likely to eat fermented foods if they are on hand all the time, of course. One easy way to assure that this is so is to make your own. Most fermented foods are truly simple to make and do not require a lot of time. I usually do it while I am in the kitchen making dinner anyway. See the bottom of the post for a basic recipe for Kraut that you can change up however you like. 

      1. Breakfast: You’ve heard me say this before. Start your day with kefir (water or milk) mixed into a smoothie (or a “shake” as my kids call it). We have this in addition to our breakfast. 
      2. Soups, Salads, and Sandwiches: Top your finished soup with veggie ferments (kraut and kimchi work well). Just be sure to let your soup cool for a minute or two so that you don’t kill the beneficial bacteria with the heat. You can also add veggie ferments to your salads. Radishes, beets, jicama, and carrots are my favorites). Add veggie ferments to your sandwiches. Pickles come to mind, of course
      3. Snack Time: Make fermented foods your snack We like to make homemade ranch dressing with homemade yogurt, and homeade kombucha mayo. The we dip raw veggies like carrot sticks and sugar snap peas for a healthy snack. Another favorite snack is homemade yogurt with a drizzle of maple syrup or a dollop of lemon curd.  
      4. Bonus: Add a glass of kombucha or water kefir lemonade to your daily routine! So simple to do and so delicious.

Veggie Ferments

Basic Kraut Recipe

Kraut Close Up

      • One large head cabbage (or 2 small)
      • 2.5 Tablespoons Celtic Sea Salt
      • Filtered Water
      • Optional: Spices: one Tablespoon caraway or juniper berries (Caraway is my favorite.)
      • Mason Jars (wide mouth quart), sterilized (3 or 4)
      • Airlocks, sterilized (optional but they do really protect your ferment)
      • Fermentation weights (or a sterilized flat rock)

Shredded cabbage for Kraut

 

      1. First, take off the first couple of layers of cabbage. Then shred or cut the the cabbage. I like to do this with a knife because I like crunchy kraut, but you could use the shredder function on your food processor. Do not use the core. 
      2. Put the shredded cabbage in a large glass or steel bowl.
      3. Next, sprinkle the salt over the cut cabbage. Let the salt sit on the cabbage for about 20 minutes or so.
      4. After the salt has soaked into the cabbage, use your hands to mix it and “work” it into the cabbage. You should be seeing the liquid in the bottom of the bowl grow. Work it for about 5 or 10 minutes. (You can do this with a wooden or stainless steel mallet as well.)
      5. Now mix in the spices if you are using them. I like to use 2 teaspoons to one tablespoon of caraway seeds.
      6. Finally, add the cabbage and salt (and spice) mixture to your mason jars. Pour the salty cabbage water over the top, dividing it equally between your jars. Add water to cover the cabbage, leaving about an inch or inch and a half from the top of the jar to allow for expansion during fermentation. Top with a fermentation weight to keep your cabbage submerged in brine. (Or you could use the cabbage core or a sterilized rock.) Keeping the cabbage submerged is crucial to not developing mold!
      7. Screw on your airlock lids or regular lids. The airlocks are optional, but they really do help protect your ferment. 
      8. Let it set out of direct sunlight for at least 3 days and up to 2 weeks. 
         
Basic Kraut Recipe
Basic Sauerkraut is so easy to make!!
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. One large head cabbage
  2. 3 Tablespoons Celtic Sea Salt
  3. Filtered Water
  4. Spices: Some common choices are caraway or juniper berries (optional)
  5. Mason Jars (wide mouth quart), sterilized
  6. Airlocks, sterilized (optional but they do really protect your ferment)
  7. Fermentation weights (or a sterilized flat rock)
Instructions
  1. First, Shred or cut the the cabbage. I like to do this with a knife, but you could use the shredder function on your food processor.
  2. Put the shredded cabbage in a large glass or steel bowl.
  3. Next, sprinkle the salt over the cut cabbage. Let the salt sit on the cabbage for about 20 minutes or so.
  4. After the salt has soaked into the cabbage, use your hands to mix it and "work" it into the cabbage. You should be seeing the liquid in the bottom of the bowl grow. Work it for about 5 or 10 minutes.
  5. Now add the spices if you are going to. I like to use 2 teaspoons to one tablspoon of caraway seeds.
  6. Finally, add the cabbage and salt mixture to your mason jars. Pour the salty cabbage water over the top, dividing it equally between your jars. Add water to cover the cabbage, leaving about an inch or inch and a half from the top of the jar to allow for expansion during fermentation.
  7. Let it sit out of direct sunlight for at least 3 days and up to 2 weeks.
Reclaiming Vitality http://reclaimingvitality.com/
    1.  Do you make your own kraut? What are your tricks for getting fermented foods into your daily diet?

 

Kraut

Veggie Ferments

 

 

Nutrient dense foods

10 Ways to Sneak Nutrients into your Diet Without Taking a Pill

These days, with things to contend with such as soil depletion, food traveling great distances before it reaches your table, and processed foods that are stripped of nutrients, it can be hard to get the nutrients that your body needs in your daily diet. Although there are many ways to sneak in extra nutrients, I find that a small list is better for comprehension, so here are 10 ways to sneak in nutrients. Most of them you will barely notice! And, hey, if you only pick 2 or 3, you are better off than you were before.

To sneak nutrients into your diet (or the diet of someone you love):

  1. Add a kefir “shake” to your breakfast. This can be milk kefir made with grass-fed milk, or coconut milk kefir. With either, you will get the benefit of gut-loving bacteria to help balance your microbiome. We make ours with milk kefir, berries, and a little maple syrup. Go here to learn more.
  2. Add kelp powder to your salt. It has a salty taste, so you are unlikely even to notice that it is there. Kelp has iodine which is essential to thyroid function, especially to preventing thyroid dysfunction. It also has over 70 vitamins, minerals, trace elements, and amino acids. You can go up to half salt/half kelp powder.
  3. Speaking of salt, switch to sea salt over table salt. Table salt is stripped of it’s minerals and then potassium iodide is added (for iodized salt) as well as anti-caking agents like sodium chloride. Make sure not to get refined, sea salt, however. This has been stripped of it’s minerals as well. Good choices are Celtic salt and Himalayan salt.
  4. Besides making soups and stews with bone broth, cook your rice, beans, and potatoes in bone broth. Go here to learn about the many benefits of adding bone broth to your diet. Either make your own, or buy one like Kettle and Fire.
  5. Put collagen powder in your tea or coffee. Collagen powder has many of the benefits of bone broth, such as healing the gut lining, creating soft, supple skin, boosting the immune system, and lubricating the joints. It also has protein and all of the essential amino acids.
  6. Take magnesium baths and or use a spray or roll-on before bed. Magnesium deficiency is rampant in those eating a western diet (or SAD). This deficiency is a factor in many of the leading diseases and disorders in our country, especially heart disease and mood disorders. For an indulgent bath, add at least two cups of Ancient Minerals magnesium bath flakes to your bath water along with your choice of essential oils (be sure that the oils are not “hot” oils like Oregano). I like lavender and geranium, or you can use a special synergy blend if there is something in particular that you want to work on, such as hormonal balance. If you are short on cash, just use epsom salts instead. Trans-dermal (through skin) absorption of magnesium is the safest way to supplement because your skin will only take in what you need. Therefore, you won’t get any of the uncomfortable side effects of supplementing with magnesium internally (like an undesired colon flush). Aim to take a magnesium bath 2 or 3 times a week. Alternatively or in addition, use a magnesium spray and/or magnesium roller a half an hour before bed. Magnesium is critical to a good night’s sleep!
  7. Have a glass of kombucha daily (or a “Probiotic Palmer”). Kombucha contains probiotics and many beneficial acids to help balance your microbiome. Go here to learn the long list of benefits!
  8. Hide chicken hearts in ground beef meals. Organ meats are the most nutrient dense and they are often overlooked. If you are new to consuming organ meats, chicken hearts are a good place to begin because they have a mild flavor. You won’t even notice them hidden in burgers, meatloaf, chili, etc. Be sure to choose organic, pastured chicken hearts, however. Conventionally raised birds are exposed to all sorts of toxins that can lodge in their meat, bones, and organs. Go here to learn more about the benefits of chicken hearts.
  9. Start taking liver “pills”. Buy organic, pastured liver (chicken, beef, lamb) and freeze it for a day. Take it out of the freezer and let it soften until you can cut it. Cut it into pill-sized pieces and then freeze again. (It is helpful to flash freeze on a parchment-lined baking sheet so that they don’t stick together.) Keep them in the freezer and take daily or as needed for an extra nutrient boost. Liver is high in b vitamins and iron. Go here to learn more about the benefits of eating liver. If you want to take a grass-fed liver pill already make for you, you can take Perfect Dessicated Liver.
  10. Add sprouts to salads and sandwiches. These tasty gems are packed with nutrition. Go here to learn about the long list of benefits of consuming sprouts as well as how to make them at home. You can even hide them in smoothies!

How about you? Do you eat any of these things? Are you going to start? What other ways do you sneak nutrients into your diet? I would love to hear from you!

 

Nutrient dense foods

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