Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year To All!

Here's wishing you all a very Happy and Healthy New Year!

Resolve to evolve in 2008!

It doesn't take much!

Blessings to all!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Red Or White Grapefruit- Which Is Best?

Did you know that red grapefruit is healthier than white? And that other than being useful for certain weight reduction diets it's also great for cancer prevention and heart health protection?

I had no idea.

Personally, I never eat grapefruit because it's far too acidic, and I'm just not fond of the taste. But if you like the fruit, you might consider adding red grapefruit to your diet. Because the red variety has more lycopene than the white, it can help protect against heart disease and cancer. It's been found that prostate cancer is less likely to affect men with more lycopene in their system.

Lycopene is a very powerful compound that could be even more beneficial than beta- carotene (found in carrots) for cancer prevention.

So give those salivary glands a working out and cut open a grapefruit!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Eskimo Proverb- Happy Holidays

Wishing you all very Happy Holidays!!

"May you have warmth in your igloo, oil in your lamp and peace in your heart."

Eskimo Proverb

Saturday, December 22, 2007

ADHD and Iron Deficiency

Children with ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) are usually pumped full of drugs (Ritalin and Concerta), often with no long-term benefits and potential negative side effects like stunted growth. Do you really want to subject your child to that, when there are natural alternatives that could help alleviate the problem?

The results of a French research study (published in the December 2004 Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine) found that children without ADHD had normal serum ferritin (iron) levels, whereas the children with ADHD had about 50% lower levels than those without. They also discovered that the greater the iron deficiency the more severe the symptoms were, including oppositional behaviour and cognitive scores. Although none of the children were actually diagnosed with iron-deficiency anemia (their hemoglobin and hematocrit tested normal), when they were treated with iron supplements their ADHD symptoms eventually improved.

However, before you start giving your child iron supplements, get a serum ferritin test to determine if the child is even deficient. And confer with your doctor. Although you can build up iron toxicity (in too great amounts) choosing an iron supplement specifically for children, or better yet, increasing iron-rich foods into your child's diet could only help. There are also liquid iron supplements like Floradix (that are safer) that you might want to consider, although for severe anemia it doesn't seem to help. When I was first diagnosed with anemia (when I got R.A.) I tried Floradix After 3 months or so and no improvement, I finally gave in and started taking an iron supplement. I still take it.

Remember, Iron should always be taken with Vitamin C to help with absorption. Check with your health professional for the appropriate amount.

As with any supplementation, the dosage for children will differ substantially from that of adults.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Calming Affects of Frankincense

I love the smell of Frankincense- it has always had a meditative, calming affect on me. I like to light up some Frankincense and Myrrh incense when I'm feeling tense or anxious, because that's precisely what Frankincense does- calms and eases tension.

According to Roberta Wilson's "Aromatherapy for Health and Beauty" (Avery Books):

"Frankincense oil can help to fortify a mind burdened with mental anxiety, nervous tension or stress. It revitalizes the body and mind... comforts and soothes the emotions and helps you sever ties with the past that are hampering your personal growth."

Frankincense has been used since the beginning of time. It comes from the Boswellia Tree found in Oman, Yemen and the parts of Somalia. The resin is "tapped" 2 to 3 times a year and the best quality resin is considered to be Omani.

You can purchase it in granules, essential oil or incense. You can use a diffuser for the oil, or add a drop to your bath.

Boswellia has other medicinal uses, but that's a different post.

NOTE: Not to be used during pregnancy, as with many different herbs etc.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Onion Takes The Sting And Itch Out of Bee and Mosquito Bites

So, you've been bitten by a pesky mosquito or stung by a bee and you're itching or stinging or both, what do you do? There are various home remedies which people swear by, but this one was the most interesting:

If you're at home, just grab an onion, cut off a slice and rub it on the bite! The pain and itch will diminish substantially.

I've never tried it, but it's worth a try.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Keys to happiness: Quote by Robert Brault

"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things"

Robert Brault

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Purple, Black & Blue Is In- For Foods That Is

Anthocyanins. They sound dangerous to me, but apparently they're actually very good for you. Pigments found in darkly-coloured produce (purple, black, blue and red) have the potential to prevent inflammation that can contribute to heart-disease and cancer. And according to research at Ohio State University, they can even
"appreciably slow the growth of colon cancer cells".
Sources of anthocyanin-rich foods include:

Mission Figs
Blue and Purple Corn
Dark carrots
Black Beans
Wild Rice

Not challenging to add some of those foods to your diet, and well worth the potential rewards.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Hello God - by Dolly Parton

This is a beautiful, incredibly powerful song by Dolly Parton, posted on Youtube, that someone has added photos to! It sadly reflects where we are today, a world full of hatred and violence, so much of that in the name of religion. A world in which so many seem to have completely forsaken GOD. The lyrics say it all. Enjoy and prepare to be moved.

Hello God- by Dolly Parton

Hello God, are you out there?
Can you hear me, are you listenin' any more?
Hello God, if we're still on speakin' terms
Can you help me like before?
I have questioned your existence,
My resistance leaves me cold
Can you help me go the distance?
Hello God, hello, hello

Verse 1:

This old world has gone to pieces
Can we fix it, is there time?
Hate and violence just increases
We're so selfish, cruel and blind
We fight and kill each other
In your name, defending you
Do you love some more than others?
We're so lost and confused


Hello God, are you out there?
Can you hear us, are you listenin' any more?
Hello God, if we're still on speakin' terms
Can you help us like before?
Oh, the free will you have given
We have made a mockery of
This is no way to be livin',
We're in great need of your love
Hello God Hello, Hello


Hello God, can you grant us
Love enough to make amends
(Hello God)
Is there still a chance
That we could start again
Hello God,we've learned our lesson
Dear God, don't let us go
Hello, Hello
More than ever
Hello God, hello, hello

Hello God, we really need you
We can't make it without you (Hello God)
We beseech you
In the name of all that's true
Hello God, please forgive us
For we know not what we do


Hello God, give us one more chance
to prove ourselves to you
Hello, God; hello, God
Hello God.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

ACTION ALERT: S.771, Support School Nutrition

Although I have no children, I think we can all agree that good, nutritious food is an integral part in helping our kids grow into healthy young adults. We all know that childhood obesity is a major problem in this country, and the unhealthy food served in schools these days simply exacerbates that problem. We also know that for most poor families school breakfasts and lunches are sometimes the only balanced meals those children get, so making those meals as healthful as possible would seem a no-brainer. Children need wholesome food for brain power, doesn't it make sense to ensure that they get all they need to grow up to be productive members of society?

So, step in S.771, the Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act, a bi-partisan bill which would change the definition of "food of minimal nutritional value", and update nutritional standards in U.S. Schools. The last time it was updated was in 1979! Almost 30 years ago, when we were far less aware of the importance of good nutrition on health.

The Natural Products Association has sent out the following information regarding the bill:

Child Nutrition Act Added to 2007 Farm Bill

The Natural Products Association has been a strong supporter of S. 771, the Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act. Introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), this act would updateout-of-date nutritional standards in U.S. schools, and re-define "food of minimal nutritional value." The definition was last updated in 1979. Since then, Americans' food options and knowledge about nutrition has changed dramatically. It's time that change was reflected in the definition.

Recently, Senator Harkin and Senator Murkowski (R-Alaska) worked together to add an amendment similar in language to S.771 to the 2007 Farm Bill under a series of provisions aimed at improving nutrition in the United States. Unfortunately, the Farm Bill is currently stalled in the Senate under the threat of filibuster. While Senators Harkin and Murkowski are doing everything they can to get this legislation off the ground, they need the support of their fellow senators to get this important amendment back on track.

If a senator has already sponsored S. 771, that is an indication that they would be supportive of the amendment in the Farm Bill. If they are not sponsors, that is all the more reason to ask for their support for this important amendment.

The association is asking its members (and others) to help by taking Action! The link has much information on how to contact your senators and whether they have signed on or not.

Remember the youth of today will be the leaders of tomorrow.

Crossposted at Confessions of a Closet Republican.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Feverfew For Fewer Migraines

I've never had migraines, although I used to suffer terribly from frequent headaches. I still get a whopper of a headache, once in a while, but certainly not as often as in the past. It's usually stress or pillow-related, and sometimes lasts throughout the day, finally dissipating the following morning. They're never fun, and I can empathize with migraine-sufferers who have to deal with much more than just a pounding head that they'd give anything to chop off their willing shoulders. I've had many a headache where I've felt very much like doing that, or at least paying someone to do it for me.

So, add to an agonizingly painful head: extreme sensitivity to light, nausea, and some vomiting for good measure, and you have the symptoms of a full blown migraine. I've had friends who get them, so I've seen how debilitating they can be.

If you get migraines you might want to consider:

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium):

It's a member of the sunflower family, and the dried leaves (along with the flowers and stems, sometimes) are used to combat not only migraines, but fevers, stomachaches, insect bites, toothaches and several other things.

A clinical study of patients taking a combination of Feverfew and White Willow (aspirin-like herb) taken twice daily for 12 weeks, reduced the frequency, intensity and duration of migraine attacks.

The Rodale Book "The Herbal Drugstore" recommends using a feverfew tincture or capsules that contain freeze-dried feverfew leaves, and NOT supplements made with dried leaves. Apparently, it won't work and could possibly worsen the migraines. They recommend taking the following daily:

15 drops of the tincture daily or
300-mg capsules per day

Though it might not work for everyone, I'd think it would be worth a try. However, as with all herbs, make sure you thoroughly research the potential side-effects etc. Further information and details of side effects etc. can be found on the above links. The following is taken from one of those websites,


The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, contain components that can trigger side effects and that can interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, herbs should be taken with care, under the supervision of a health care provider qualified in the field of botanical medicine.
Side effects from feverfew can include abdominal pain, indigestion, flatulence, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and nervousness. Mouth ulcers, loss of taste, and swelling of the lips, tongue, and mouth may occur in some individuals who chew raw feverfew leaves. Allergic reactions to feverfew, although rare, have also been reported. In fact, people with allergies to chamomile, ragweed, or yarrow will likely be allergic to feverfew and, therefore, should not take it.

Feverfew may increase the tendency to bleed, especially in individuals with bleeding disorders or taking blood-thinning medications, such as aspirin or warfarin. Do not use feverfew if you have bleeding disorders or are taking blood-thinning medications unless you are under the supervision of a doctor.
Pregnant and nursing women as well as children under 2 years of age should not take feverfew.

Do not abruptly stop taking feverfew if you have used it for more than 1 week. A withdrawal syndrome characterized by rebound headache, anxiety, fatigue, muscle stiffness, and joint pain may occur.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Water and Weight Loss

I think we all know that drinking more water can help cut down the amount of calories you ingest. Fill your stomach with liquid and you feel fuller. However, a recent Penn State University study has confirmed that eating low fat foods with a high water content can actually help with weight loss.

Fruits, veggies, beans and apparently low-fat dairy contain fewer calories and satisfy hunger more so you have a tendency to eat less.

They've also found that people who drink a bowl of veggie broth (of 100 to 150 calories per bowl) before a meal consume as much as 20 percent fewer calories.

Barbara J. Rolls, PhD at Penn State says "hunger is one reason people don't stick with diets." If you can feel fuller from less food, then you will obviously start losing some weight. I remember reading somewhere that we often misinterpret feelings of 'hunger' for feelings of thirst, so try drinking some water when you feel hungry and see if that doesn't actually curb your hunger pangs. Besides the more water you drink the more toxins are released from your body.

So start off with a clear, low-calorie soup, make a nice plate of veggies along with some beans and a little cheese, add some fruit for dessert and see what happens.

I think I'll go buy some miso soup and start off my meals with that.


Friday, November 30, 2007

Right Brain or Left Brain? Check it out!

So here's a fun little visual test to determine whether you are more Right Brain or Left Brain oriented. I'm not sure how it works, but it's certainly interesting:

Right Brain V Left Brain Test

And for a written test go to:

Hemispheric Dominance Inventory Test

Not surprisingly, I am Right Brained!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Too Much Meat Equals Trouble

Too much of anything is not a good thing. If we all practiced a little moderation, we would be much healthier for it. But most of us have a tendency to overindulge in our favourite foods, in spite of knowing certain excesses can cause major problems in the future. In some cases, it's lack of knowledge, in others it's a deliberate choice. Either way, we should educate ourselves about what we ingest and how it can adversely affect our health. And then, at least, we have no-one to blame but ourselves when we do get sick.

For those of you who eat red meat, and lots of it, you should be aware that too much can cause a plethora of problems from heart disease to a higher risk of colorectal cancer, at which point, you have to decide whether it's worth the risk or not.

Heart Disease:

According to a Harvard Nurses' Study, women with Type 2 Diabetes who ingested too much Heme Iron from meat, increased their risk of developing Coronary Heart Disease over a 20 year period by a whopping 50%.


A group of 21 experts from around the world spent 5 years evaluating 7,000 cancer studies to determine what increases or decreases the risk of getting cancer. They concluded, among many other things, that eating too much meat can definitely increase that risk. Sir Michael Marmot, a Professor from University College London and chair of the panel of experts, claims there is a definite link between excess meat consumption and colorectal cancer, and halving the amount from the recommended 900 grams of red meat per week to 500 grams (equivalent to 2- 8 oz steaks) can substantially decrease that risk. He also recommends totally avoiding processed meats including smoked, salted or cured, like bacon, ham and salami. I would add hot dogs to the list.

Rheumatoid Arthritis:

In a study by researchers at the University of Manchester, England participants who ate the most red meat doubled their risk of developing Rheumatoid Arthritis. Those who ate other meats in addition to red meat had the same risk factors. As someone with Rheumatoid Arthritis, I can guarantee you that juicy T-Bone is not worth the risk.

Bone Loss:

A study, at the University of California in San Francisco, of more than one thousand 65 to 80-year-old women found that after a period of 7 years those women who had the highest intake of protein from animal sources (like meat and cheese) had 3 times the amount of bone loss and 3.7 times the rate of hip fractures.

Then you have the extremely remote possibility of contracting Mad Cow Disease, but I won't get into that.

None of the studies are recommending people give up meat altogether (although I would suggest that) they are merely asking you to limit your intake. As the saying goes: "Everything in moderation." If you must eat 16 ounces of meat per week, try adding some fish to your diet and cooking up several veggie meals the rest of the week. Get a good vegetarian cookbook, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks! A day to reflect upon all our blessings. And, as Americans, we are extremely blessed to be living in one of the greatest countries in the world. So we're not perfect. Which country is?! We have our many problems, no-one denies that, but in spite of all our shortcomings, and as often as foreigners vehemently claim to hate and despise us, the U.S. is the country most people dream of coming to. That's why this country is overflowing with legal and illegal immigrants, because this is the "land of opportunity"

where, with a little effort and sometimes no effort at all, anyone can be anything they choose to be,

Where education is encouraged for both men and women.

Where a woman can do a man's job and vice versa.

Where a woman can drive a car, a bus, a truck, a plane or even fly into outerspace.

Where women can wear what they want without being beaten and stoned for showing their ankles, arms or a tuft of hair.

Where we can criticise our government and politicians without being thrown into jail and tortured or killed.

Where our politicians are (usually) held accountable and we can vote, in or out, for whomever we choose, and we do and have.

Where we can demonstrate, if we choose to, against or about pretty much anything we choose to.

Where we have access to the internet and news that is not censored.

Where we can worship in a temple, church, synagogue, mosque or wherever we choose to commune with God, or not worship at all.

Where we have access to alternative medicine, and our supplements and herbs are not rigorously and overly regulated.

Where we can travel, without restriction, throughout this country and abroad.

Where life is what you make of it, and you can make anything of your life.

Where we don't live in fear of daily suicide bombings, or being killed because we happen to be a different religion than our neighbour.

This is what freedom and democracy are all about. The freedom to choose what we want for our lives. Not to have those choices dictated by militant religious or political dogma. This is the "land of the free" and "the home of the brave."

God Bless these United States of America and those brave men and women who serve in our armed forces who fight to maintain the freedoms that we have!

We have much to be thankful for!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Email Virus alert: Zapchast Trojan Virus in Hallmark E-Cards


With the holiday season fast approaching spammer reprobates are at it again. As I was perusing tonight, I noticed an alert regarding the latest attempt to infect your computer with the Zapchast Trojan Virus via Hallmark E-Cards. Hallmark has some very good recommendations on how to determine if it's a legitimate E-Card or not, and how to report the abuse.

I've posted all the relevant information on my other blog.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Ten "Other" Commandments to Live by

Not sure who to attribute this to, but these 10 "commandments", of sorts, are truly worth trying to apply to our daily lives.

1. Thou shalt not worry, for worry is the most unproductive of all human activities.

2. Thou shalt not be fearful, for most of the things we fear never come to pass.

3. Thou shalt not cross bridges before you get to them, for no one yet has succeeded in accomplishing that.

4. Thou shalt face each problem as it comes. You can handle only one at a time, anyway.

5. Thou shalt not borrow other people's problems. They can take better take care of them than you can.

6. Thou shalt not take problems to bed with you for they make poor bed fellows.

7. Thou shalt not try to relive yesterday for good or ill- it is gone. Concentrate on what is happening in your life today.

8. Thou shalt count they blessings, never overlooking the small ones, for a lot of small blessings add up to a big one.

9. Thou shalt be a good listener, for only when you listen do you hear ideas different from your own. It's very hard to learn something when you're talking.

10. Thou shalt not become bogged down by frustration, for 90 percent of it is rooted in self pity and it will only interfere with positive action.

If anyone knows who wrote this, please let me know. I'd like to give credit, where credit is due.

A relative of mine gave this to me with the title "My Ten Commandments by: Rabbi Eckstein", but google came up empty, so still not positive.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Other Use for Vodka

I learned this handy dandy little tip in the theatre. During a performance week there is usually neither the time nor the money to dry clean those costumes that happen to require dry cleaning. Our Union requires that all skins (those pieces that are in direct contact with your body like socks, bras, slips etc) be washed daily. The costumers will also kindly wash anything that is washable, as well, but that leaves some other very smelly unwashable clothes to be worn for the week, until they can be cleaned. That can be up to 9 performances. Not very pleasant for anyone involved.

So what they do is spray the costumes, particularly the malodorous spots under the arm with undiluted vodka (the cheaper the higher proof the better). Some will use Febreze, but the Vodka seems to work better, and is a more environmentally friendly alternative, I would think.

So, next time you can't wash a particular item and it needs a little freshening up, try some vodka. Seems like that might be a good travel option, when you are traveling light and are unable to wash every day.

Honey for Insomnia

Having trouble with your nightly zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzs?

Found this recommendation in the October 2007 issue of Vegetarian Times:

Before bed dissolve 2 tsp of honey in a cup of warm water. Drink.

"Honey relaxes the nervous system and muscles, making it easy to drift off to sleep."

Sounds good, but for those of us with small bladders, drinking a cup of warm water with honey might help us fall asleep quicker, but we'll be waking up in the middle of the night to rid ourselves of that liquid.

I've had troubles with sleep most of my life, and have yet to find a solution. I will keep looking.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Keys to happiness- Carol Holmes quote

So who is Carol Holmes, you ask? I hate to admit it but I've no idea- she's not even listed in Wikipedia, not that that means anything, but I love this quote attributed to her.
A happy life is made up of little things-

a gift sent, a letter written, a call made, a recommendation given, transportation provided, a cake made, a book lent, a check sent.

Whoever Carol Holmes is, she has it right. We garner more happiness from doing things for others than for ourselves. It's in the spirit of giving and of service that we are truly able to step out of our self involvement, and by doing so we gain more than we could possibly imagine. Particularly for those prone to depression, doing things for others allows us to stop focusing on self which can prolong the depressive state.

So, go do what Carol Holmes, whoever you are, recommends. Spend some time with a Veteran, or a home-bound neighbour, send a card to a friend in need, donate to your favourite charity. You'd be surprised what happiness karma you'll accrue.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Caffeine Withdrawal Considered a "Mental Disorder"!

I was reading an old issue of Vegetarian Times and saw a short mention about a study by John Hopkins School of Medicine (published in their 10/04 issue of Psychopharmacology) which categorizes caffeine withdrawal as a "mental disorder".

According to Roland Griffiths, PhD (professor at John Hopkins),"Caffeine is the world's most commonly used stimulant, and it's cheap and readily available so people can maintain their use of caffeine quite easily." "The latest research demonstrates, however, that when people don't get their usual dose they can suffer a range of withdrawal symptoms, including headache, fatigue, difficulty concentrating. They may even feel like they have the flu with nausea and muscle pain."

And it seems that the more you drink, the more severe the withdrawal symptoms will be.

According to an article on the John Hopkins website, some common symptoms include:

1. Headache

2. Fatigue or drowsiness

3. Dysphoric mood including depression and irritability

4. Difficulty concentrating

5. Flu-like symptoms including nausea, vomiting, muscle pain and/or stiffness

Any or all of the above-mentioned symptoms can occur anywhere from 12 to 24 hours after cessation of caffeine, intensifying between 24 and 48 hours, and lasting from 2 to 9 days after stopping. The severity of symptoms increases, incrementally, according to the amount of caffeine imbibed. In other words, the more you drink, the worse it will be.

And I certainly can attest to that!! Hello, my name is Incognito and I'm a recovering caffeine addict. Prior to quitting I was probably a 20 plus cup-a-day-er. I started off my day with a pot of coffee and ended it with another one- not to mention the many cups I drank throughout the day. I loved coffee. Loved the taste, loved the aroma. Still love the aroma. I also happened to be addicted to nicotine. I smoked 3 plus packs a day. As with caffeine, I started my day and ended my night with a cigarette. So it was a truly hideous experience when I decided to quit both at the same time, cold turkey. Not only was I dealing with caffeine withdrawal, I also had to suffer through nicotine withdrawal , as well, and it was not a pretty picture. I think I suffered from all of the above listed symptoms and more, including my head spinning for several days. I was what you could call a witch with a capital B. The major hell lasted from 3 to 4 weeks, but I overcame the caffeine addiction easier than I did the nicotine. I struggled with the latter for years after I quit. However, I have never picked up a cigarette (or anything caffeinated) in 20 plus years. But I have to admit, up until a few years ago, I was still having cigarette dreams. Nightmares, really. I would dream I had started smoking again and wake up in a panic, wondering if I actually had, and being profoundly relieved that I hadn't.

It turns out that coffee is one of the most popular drinks in this country. Apparently, 80 to 90 percent of the North American population drinks- no - is addicted to caffeine, and just one cup of coffee per day can get you addicted.

This article (and many others) recommend the best way to quit is to slowly wean yourself off of caffeine, which is what I would and should have done, had I known. Actually, I would never have started drinking coffee had I known how addictive it was. So, for those of you who might be contemplating kicking the habit (and I encourage you to do so) here are some interesting facts:

Nutritional Value of Caffeine? Zippo

Pros: Not many, other than giving you an extra added zip. Though it never did me, because I developed a tolerance to it, I suppose.

Cons: Causes major addiction. Interferes with the absorption of many vitamins and minerals, including iron, calcium, B Vitamins and magnesium. Because it's a diuretic, if taken with food, most of the nutrients will be flushed out of your system. It taxes the liver, because it has to work harder to rid the body of all the chemicals and toxins. Can cause insomnia. Affects your REM sleep, which is when the body does its resting and repairing. Forces the adrenal glands to work overtime, which can lead to inflammation and immune system troubles. (I have to wonder if all my health issues might somehow be related to my overuse of caffeine and nicotine).

Anyway, the list goes on. For more information check out a book by Dr. Stephen Cherniske called "Caffeine Blues".

Bottom line, there's really nothing redeeming about coffee, or using caffeine in any form, for that matter. There are plenty of coffee substitutes that are palatable enough if you really crave something hot and java-like.

Coffee Substitutes: Postum. Bambu. Cafix. Pero. Teeccino. Roma. Inka. Raja's Cup. All of these are grain beverages and I've tried most, although Pero and Roma are my favourites.

I now exclusively drink Sleepytime tea, but once in a while I crave a cup-a-joe, and I settle for one of the above. They are also great to bake with.

For more info than you'd ever care to know about coffee can be found here.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Chamomile Relieves Menstrual Cramps

For those of the female persuasion, that dreaded "time of the month" can often be very painful, even crippling, at least for those who experience severe cramping. I usually have some discomfort for the first few days, and several days prior to getting my period, but (thankfully) I left behind those tear-inducing cramps in my 20s.

For those who aren't allergic to ragweed, there's some very good news: In a fairly recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (January, 2005) Chamomile was found to be very beneficial in relieving menstrual cramps, among other things. Researchers at Imperial College of London discovered that volunteers who drank 5 cups a day of German chamomile tea for two weeks showed elevated levels of both glycine and hippurate in their urine. Glycine has the benefit of relieving muscle spasms and relaxing the uterus, which would account for its efficacy with regard to menstrual cramping. The higher levels of hippurate (which has anti-bacterial properties) would explain why chamomile is also great for fighting infections; however that's another post.

The wonderful thing about chamomile is that the levels of hippurate and glycine remained high for at least 2 weeks after the study participants stopped drinking the tea, which indicates that drinking chamomile tea has positive, long-term healing affects.

I drink tea with chamomile for other reasons, but I think I might up my intake next month!

I will post about the other health benefits of chamomile soon.

Caution: Please do your research before starting any herbal regimen. As mentioned, those allergic to ragweed should avoid chamomile, as should those on warfarin (blood thinning medication).

Friday, November 2, 2007

Virtual Flowers for Butterfly Wife

I don't know Butterfly Wife, but she's the proud spouse of one our brave military men, and is in need of some support. So these are for you!! Sending you and your family many blessings!
It is due to the courage and fortitude of our military personnel that the world remains free!
God Bless them all!

Cranberries- for health and taste

I love cranberries! Maybe because my favorite kind of fruit is tart and sweet, I always look forward to the Fall season when those fresh, round berries flood our supermarkets, and we can treat ourselves to home-made cranberry sauce, or luscious desserts that prominently feature the beauteous red berry.

And when one of your favorites happens to be full of health benefits, to boot, it makes it even more appealing.

Cranberries are chock full of healing properties. Most of us are aware of the benefits of cranberry on urinary tract health, but I had no idea about some of the other benefits. According to the Cranberry Marketing Committee, cranberries are also potentially beneficial for dental health, heart health and have anti-cancer and anti ulcer properties.

Urinary Tract Health:As we all know, drinking cranberry juice every day aids in prevention of bladder infections. I know of one person who remained infection free after starting a daily regimen of 2 teaspoons of frozen cranberry juice concentrate per day. Harvard researchers in a 1994 study found that women who drank 300 ml of juice a day had a 58% reduced chance of infection. A Rutgers University follow-up study discovered the anti-adhesion properties of the cranberry which "prevents microorganisms from adhering to cells of the urinary tract."

Heart Health: The flavonoids (polyphenol compounds) found in cranberries may "also help prevent the progression of atheroscleroic plaques that lead to cardiovascular disease." A University of Wisconsin study "has already shown that the properties of cranberry juice that could contribute to inhibiting blood clotting, promoting blood vessel diameter and preventing clogged arteries are equivalent to those of red wine."

Dental Health: A 1998 Tel-Aviv University study "determined that the same "anti-adhesion" properties that prevent bacteria from forming in the urinary tract prevent bacteria from forming in the mouth. By creating a "bacteria-inhibiting" effect, cranberries might reduce the formation of harmful plaque that leads to gum disease."

Anti-Cancer: The flavonoid and anti-oxidant properties in cranberries could be beneficial in cancer prevention. See here for more info.

Anti-Ulcer: Research has found that the tannins in cranberries can prevent bacterial adhesion in the stomach lining, including the infamous H. Pylori (Helicobacter pylori bacterium) which causes that nasty Peptic Ulcer.

There are also indications that it has anti-aging properties as well. Check out the Cranberry Institute for more information.

All of this from a bunch 'o berries. It's obviously worth adding more of them to our diets.

Tip On Cooking Cranberries:

Found this little tidbit in Vegetarian Times.

In a saucepan of water, over medium heat, cook the berries for 10 minutes until they "pop". This, apparently, helps lose the tartness. Cooking any longer, however, will make them bitter.

by Ocean Spray Test Kitchen

sliced tart apples 5 cups

cranberries 1 1/2 cups

sugar 1/3 cup

flour 1/2 cup

brown sugar 1/2 cup

cinnamon 1 teaspoon

butter or margarine 1/4 cup

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 inch square baking pan. Pare and core apples. Layer apples and cranberries in pan, sprinkling with sugar as you layer. Mix flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Work in butter until light and crumbly. Sprinkle topping evenly over apples and cranberries. Bake 45 minutes or until apples are tender.

For other cranberry recipes click here.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Nick Vujicic- Life Without Limbs

Here's another truly inspirational story. Nick Vujicic was born without any limbs and yet this beautiful young man has turned what could be regarded as a major liability into something extraordinarily positive. He has dedicated his life to inspiring others, and indeed he is doing just that!

Regardless of one's religious affiliation, this young man proves what one can accomplish when one has faith.

In his own words:

My name is Nick Vujicic and I give God the Glory for how He has used my testimony to touch thousands of hearts around the world! I was born without limbs and doctors have no medical explanation for this birth "defect". As you can imagine, I was faced with many challenges and obstacles. "Consider it pure joy, my Brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds." .... To count our hurt, pain and struggle as nothing but pure joy? As my parents were Christians, and my Dad even a Pastor of our church, they knew that verse very well. However, on the
morning of the 4th of December 1982 in Melbourne (Australia ), the last two words on the minds of my parents was "Praise God!". Their firstborn son had been born without limbs! There were no warnings or time to prepare themselves for it. The doctors we shocked and had no answers at all! There is still no medical reason why this had happened and Nick now has a Brother and Sister who were born just like any other baby. The whole church mourned over my birth and my parents were absolutely devastated. Everyone asked, "if God is a God of Love, then why would God let something this bad happen to not just anyone, but dedicated Christians?" My Dad thought I wouldn't survive for very long, but tests proved that I was a healthy baby boy just with a few limbs missing.

"And we know that in all things God works for the best for those who love Him." That verse spoke to my heart and convicted me to the point where that I know that there is no such thing as luck, chance or coincidence that these "bad" things happen in our life. I had complete peace knowing that God won't let anything happen to us in our life unless He has a good purpose for it all. I completely gave my life to Christ at the age of fifteen after reading John 9. Jesus said that the reason the man was born blind was "so that the works of God may be revealed through Him." I truly believed that God would heal me so I could be a great testimony of His Awesome Power. Later on I was given the wisdom to understand that if we pray for something, if it's God's will, it'll happen in His time. If it's not God's will for it to happen, then I know that He has something better. I now see that Glory revealed as He is using me just the way I am and in ways others can't be used. I am now 23 years old [
I think he's actually 24 now] and have completed a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Financial Planning and Accounting. I am also a motivational speaker and love to go out and share my story and testimony wherever opportunities become available. have developed talks to relate to and encourage students through topics that challenge today's teenagers. I am also a speaker in the corporate sector.

I have a passion for reaching out to youth and keep myself available for whatever God wants me to do, and wherever He leads, I follow. I have many dreams and goals that I have set to achieve in my life. I want to become the best witness I can be of God's Love and Hope , to become an international inspirational speaker and be used as a vessel in both Christian and non-Christian venues. I want to become financially independent by the age of 25, through real estate investments, to modify a car for me to drive and to be interviewed and share my story on the " Oprah Winfrey Show "! Writing several best-selling books has been one of my dreams and I hope to finish writing my first by the end of the year. It will be called "No Arms, No Legs, No Worries!"

I believe that if you have the desire and passion to do something,
and if it's God's will, you will achieve it in good time. As humans, we continually put limits on ourselves for no reason at all! What's worse is putting limits on God who can do all things. We put God in a "box". The awesome thing about the Power of God, is that if we want to do something for God, instead of focusing on our capability, concentrate on our availability for we know that it is God through us and we can't do anything without Him. Once we make ourselves available for God's work, guess whose capabilities we rely on? God's! May the Lord Bless you In Christ, Nick Vujicic ONLY FEAR IN LIFE IS THAT I FORGET HOW GOD HAS LED ME IN THE PAST!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

To Wash Or Not To Wash: Prewashed salads

For some reason I have always felt compelled to thoroughly wash all my fruits and veggies, including those pre-packaged salads, spinach etc. that claim to be pre-washed. Call me obsessive, call me paranoid, but I just have to do it. Perhaps it's because I have had so many gross experiences in my life with food. I've bitten into a plum and had a worm pop out the other end, right in front of my eyes. The same thing happened with a candy bar, when I still ate chocolate. This big, fat green worm popped up as I bit into a Mr. Goodbar! On another occasion, after having eaten half a box of raisins, I discovered a dead moth and realized (to my horror) why the raisins had been so granular. I've found worms in frozen and canned vegetables, flies in my falafel and hairs in my spaghetti, so you can understand why I am so neurotic when it comes to food inspection and cleanliness both at home and in restaurants.

The following photo confirmed why it is still imperative to wash all those pre-washed salad fixings:

If you look closely below the "Fresco, Lavado" you will see the bulging eyes of a frog. Yummy. The email accompanying the photo assumes that the water the spinach was washed in contained polliwogs, but whether the photo is real or a hoax is undetermined, according to But there have been other similar cases. Either way, it's probably best to wash everything, unless you want extra protein in your salad!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Brain and Memory Food

As one ages, the brain and memory seem to deteriorate (for various reasons), which is not a terribly comforting thought for those of us who rely on our memories for our income. As an actress, one needs to have a sharp memory and ability to focus, but I've found that those abilities have suffered in recent years. This makes my work doubly challenging and painful.

I started to notice a problem with the onset of my Rheumatoid Arthritis. So, I'm not sure if the R.A. is a factor, or whether it's just age, or perhaps a combination of both, but it is not very pleasant. I have found it much harder to memorize and focus, so I decided to do some research into foods and supplements that might aid in sharpening those skills. I found some interesting information on Yes, it's for men, but the information is, I'm sure, pertinent for both sexes.

It lists the following foods and herbs as useful for boosting brainpower:

Eggs: The brain needs protein and Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) and eggs provide plenty of that.

Oily Fish: This is another wonderful source of protein, and EFAs in the form of Omega 3s. "Oily varieties of fish -- such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, and herring -- are high in the EFAs known as omega-3 fatty acids. These good fats are crucial components of our brain cells and improve learning powers and memory."

Soy: This is a good alternative for vegetarians. Full of protein, which ""triggers neurotransmitters associated with memory." Soy is "also valuable for improving verbal and non-verbal memory, as well as mental flexibility."

Gingko Biloba: Takes a few weeks to kick in, but is one of the most popular.

Green and Black Tea: I don't use caffeine so I will not try this, but they claim that it has a positive affect on Alzheimer's Disease. That it somehow seems to "prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, a key chemical involved in memory that is lacking in Alzheimer's patients." Green tea seems to function better than black tea, however.

Sage: Apparently, sage might increase acetylcholine in the brain; and various studies have shown that the people who took sage did far better on word recall tests than those who didn't.

Rosemary: Is also helpful. It has also been shown to "strengthen mental clarity and alleviate mental fatigue. Studies have shown that rosemary enhanced subjects' long-term memory by around 15%."

B Vitamins: Vitamin B is a factor in brain power and a deficiency prevents acetylcholine from doing its thing. Both physical and mental stress depletes the body of Vitamin B, so it is highly recommended during periods of stress; which of course, is essential for those of us in the entertainment field. Performing can be both physically and mentally stressful, and the rehearsal period is as highly stressful as the actual performing, so needless to say, I do take a Vitamin B Complex. "B vitamins also carry oxygen to the brain and do away with damaging free radicals; this helps to enhance memory and sharpen the senses. You can either take a supplement or increase your consumption of vitamin B-rich foods, including liver, eggs, lentils, soybeans, and green beans."

Iron: Iron deficiency can be the source of many troubles, including fatigue and mental acuity problems. "Iron helps carry oxygen to the brain, and the lack of oxygen associated with iron deficiency can cause brain cell activity to slow down significantly." I have slight anemia, so I am on Iron supplements, but it can also be toxic, so check with your Doctor before you start taking supplements or increasing your iron intake. You can get your Iron from either Iron-rich foods or supplements. I tried with foods, at first, but it wasn't helpful so I switched to a supplement. They say that Vitamin C is important in aiding Iron absorption, so I take my pill with a glass of orange juice.

Water: I had no idea that dehydration was a factor in memory problems! But according to the article on the brain is "70% water, this essential fluid is vital for your memory. In fact, water accelerates the functioning of the brain as a whole, and when it is dehydrated, it works at a slower pace. This is particularly true when it comes to memory; a dehydrated brain releases the hormone cortisol, which adversely affects the brain's capacity to store information and create memory.In addition, cortisol causes adrenalin to be released, which prompts the brain to function in a more primary, instinctive way; this also affects our mental functions and memory."

I know I don't drink enough water, so this was wonderful news. I'm going to substantially increase the amount of water I drink daily, and I'm going right now to the health food store to buy some sage and rosemary. I am about to open a show, and I have extreme brain fatigue. I normally buy all my supplements through (see their link on the side-bar) because the prices are so much cheaper, but I need this now. So, off I go. I will let everyone know if it actually works.


It seems to have worked. I put the sage and rosemary on veggies, and made an infusion of the herbs and added it to my Sleepytime tea. I drank that twice a day. I also purchased a little bottle of aromatherapy specifically for Clarity and focus, and I got through opening week!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Sunday, September 23, 2007

"Dancing With God"

Although we all like to think we know what is best for our lives, I have found that when I relinquish my personal desires, and am able to totally "give it up", so to speak, for God to handle, my life works out far better than I could ever have imagined.

I actually learned that lesson after I got sick with Rheumatoid Arthritis in late 2003. It was a series of events, over a period of a year, that led me to the epiphany that God is in perfect control of all things. It was such a relief to come to the realizitation that I did not have to be in control of my life. I don't mean to say that I don't take responsibility for my actions, but I have learned that if I do the leg work God will do the rest. I have since ceased to spin my wheels.

So I wanted to share something I came across at middleageramblings, which perfectly describes what it's like to 'let go and let God". Letting God guide our lives is indeed like Dancing With God.

Dancing With God

When I meditated on the word Guidance,
I kept seeing "dance" at the end of the word.
I remember reading that doing God's will is a lot like dancing.
When two people try to lead, nothing feels right.
The movement doesn't flow with the music,
and everything is quite uncomfortable and jerky.
When one person realizes that, and lets the other lead,
both bodies begin to flow with the music.
One gives gentle cues, perhaps with a nudge to the back
or by pressing lightly in one direction or another.
It's as if two become one body, moving beautifully.
The dance takes surrender, willingness, and attentiveness from one person
and gentle guidance and skill from the other.
My eyes drew back to the word Guidance.

When I saw "G": I thought of God, followed by "u" and "i".
"God, "u" and "i" dance."
God, you, and I dance.
As I lowered my head, I became willing to trust
that I would get guidance about my life.
Once again, I became willing to let God lead.
My prayer for you today is that God's blessings
and mercies are upon you on this day and everyday.
May you abide in God, as God abides in you.
Dance together with God, trusting God to lead
and to guide you through each season of your life.
This prayer is powerful and there is nothing attached.
If God has done anything for you in your life,
please share this message with someone else.
There is no cost but a lot of rewards;
so let's continue to pray for one another.
And I Hope You Dance !

Source Unknown

Saturday, September 22, 2007

There's More to Calcium then Milk!

Dem bones, dem bones.......

So you think that only calcium from milk (and other dairy products or supplements) is good for bone-health? Think again. You'd be surprised at some other foods that are just as good for our bones and teeth. And others (like Vitamin D and K enriched foods) that are very necessary to ensure that the calcium from those foods is absorbed into our system, to maintain those healthy bones.

"Milk, it does a body good". Not so! Well at least, not for those of us who are lactose intolerant, or those who are Vegan, or believe that milk should only be consumed by babies and baby cows. So, these mighty tasty alternatives are good news.

SESAME SEEDS: Although it packs on more calories, an ounce (160 calories) of sesame seeds has the equivalent amount of calcium as a glass of skim milk. Sprinkle some on your cereal, or veggies, or whatever else you fancy.

FIGS: believe it or not, have more calcium than most other fruits - 6 figs supply 15% of the RDA for calcium. I'm not sure how many fig newtons you'd have to eat to gain any benefit, other than pounds, but you might check it out on the packaging.

BRUSSELS SPROUTS: (if you can stand them- personally, they make me gag!) The Vitamin K in Brussels Sprouts helps our bones retain the calcium necessary for bone health, so it is vitally important to make sure you get enough Vitamin K in your diet. It seems that early post-menopausal women don't get enough vitamin K, so just a half cup of these cooked, gag-inducing veggies provides more than the daily requirement. So go ahead and enjoy. I'll find other yummier Vitamin K rich foods like the following:

OTHER LEAFY GREENS: Spinach, Kale, broccoli, all have calcium, but in a form that is unavailable to the body. However, they are chock full of Vitamin K. Other veggies with high levels of Vitamin K are turnip greens, lettuce and cabbage. Now that's more like it. For a list of Vitamin K Rich foods and the amounts per 100 grams of food, click here.

FLAXSEED: a recent study published in Nutrition Journal claims that diets that are high in alpha-linolenic acid A.L.A. (an Omega-3 Fatty Acid which is found in ground flaxseed, soybean and other sources, though it is highest in flaxseed) may actually help slow down bone loss. And 1 tablespoon contains 1.6 grams of ALA (which constitutes more than your daily needs.)

PUMPKIN SEEDS: Magnesium is very important in helping the body metabolize calcium, and most nuts and seeds are a great source of magnesium. All you need is 2 ounces of pumpkin seeds, and you'll have consumed 302 mg of magnesium , the full RDA. You can put them in muffins, or sprinkle on salads and, voila!

TOFU: 1/2 cup provides 250 mg of calcium. The wonderful thing about tofu is that it is so versatile. Because it is essentially tasteless, it takes on the flavors of the spices etc. that it is cooked with. I make a fabulous tofu-carob mousse pie, and people have no clue it is made with tofu. It has probably been my most popular and most requested recipe.

SALMON: and other fatty fish like herring etc. are rich in Vitamin D (in addition to calcium), which is essential for many things including bone health. (I'll be doing a separate post on Vitamin D soon.) Women ingesting enough Vitamin D, plus calcium, have been found to have a 29% reduced risk of hip fracture. 1 ounce of herring contains 193 IU of Vitamin D, the recommended daily requirement, although there is some thought that people might need more. And, a 3 1/2 ounce serving of salmon provides 90% of the RDA.

So, there you go. Lots of interesting and different choices, for both carnivores, pescatarians, vegetarians and vegans, alike.

Oh, and don't forget exercise! It is very important, particularly lifting weights. Sigh.

NOTE: Careful about your caffeine consumption. Drinking too much will, in essence, leach the calcium out of your bones. Besides, there are is no nutritional value, whatsoever in caffeine.

The RDA for calcium is as follows:


0 to 6 months 210 mg

7 to 1 years 270

1 to 3 years 500

4 to 8 years 800


9 to 18 years 1300 mg

19 to 50 years 1000

51 plus years 1200


9 to 18 years 1300 mg

19 to 50 years 1000

over 51 years 1200

For a list of other vegetarian, calcium rich foods, click here.

Monday, September 17, 2007 - resource for saving dollars on all things green

I came across in Prevention Magazine today. It's an extensive resource for "eco-friendly and holistic health products", a site I know I'm bookmarking for the future.

If you are looking to save on organic fruits and veggies they list local food buying clubs and co-ops by zip code and state, city and even country.

Food buying clubs, if there are any near you, are a great way to save up to 35% on organic foods. Members purchase the produce in bulk directly from farmers and meet every week or 2 to divide it all up. According to Prevention Magazine the cost ranges from $40 to $50 for 2 weeks. That seems like quite a savings, especially for those who have families. There are supposedly 10,000 buying clubs across the country. doesn't seem to list any of the larger health food chains, like Whole Foods and Wild Oats, but those are easily located via their specific web sites.

They also have listings from clothing to travel to holistic medical practitioners, and it also happens to list the best (and my favourite) website for veggie restaurants (and health food stores) across the nation and the world:

You never know what you'll find on these kinds of sites.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Keys to happiness: Jospeh Addison quote

"The grand essentials to happiness in this life are something
to do, something to love and something to hope for."

Joseph Addison

Saturday, September 1, 2007

It's never too Late!

How many times have we told ourselves it was too late to do something? We feel we're too old to change, or to learn something new. My Dad, although ill health prevented him from finishing, went back to college at the ripe old age of 78 or 79. He went for several semesters until his back went out, and he was in too much pain to continue. He is now fine, but we were so proud of him. My sister changed careers in her mid 40s, ending up with a PhD in Psych. Another friend started her law degree in her mid 40s.

You are as old as you consider yourself, and it is never, ever too late to do anything! All you need is the will and the energy, and even the energy can be manufactured.

There's a wonderful poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, that I wanted to share.

Never Too Late
'It's too late!' Ah, nothing is too late-
Cato learned Greek at eighty, Sophocles
Wrote his grand 'Oedipus'; and Simonides
Bore off the praise of verse from his compeers
When each had numbered more than fourscore years.
And Theophrastus, at fourscore and ten
Had begun his 'Characters of men'.
Chaucer, at Woodstock, with his nightingales,
At sixty wrote the 'Canterbury Tales.'
Goethe, at Weimar, toiling to the last,
Completed 'Faust' when eighty years were past.
What then? Shall we sit idly down and say,
'The night has come, it is no longer day?'
For age is opportunity no less
than youth itself, in another dress.
And as the evening twilight fades away,
The sky is filled with stars, invisibly by day.
It is never too late to start doing what is right.
Amen to that!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

More on Broccoli: from Prevention Magazine

Broccoli is chockfull of Vitamin C, an immune-boosting, and cancer-preventative nutrient.
And, there are 30 milligrams of Vitamin C in every 1/2 cup of Broccoli!

Best ways to get the most out Broccoli?

Nuke it! According to a new study published in the Journal of Food Science, when you microwave broccoli, rather than steaming or boiling the veggie, it retains 90% of the Vitamin C as opposed to only 34% when boiling and 22% when steaming.

What happens when you boil and steam (any veggie) is that the nutrients leach out into the water, which people usually just throw out. You could retain that water and use it as stock for soups, but who ever does that? When you microwave veggies, it cooks them by "heating up their natural water content."
Prevention Magazine recommends stirring the veggies half way through the cooking process to make sure the food is cooked evenly.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Patrick Henry Hughes and his selfless Dad- Inspiration for us all

In my humble opinion, one of the most admirable of personal attributes is selflessness, although not many people are endowed with that gift. We usually do things for others because we believe we will somehow gain something, be it material or emotional, from the act of giving, and as long as we don't have to make major sacrifices. Then there are those who give selflessly of themselves, without any expectations, because they simply feel compelled to serve another.

On Father's Day I wrote about Dick Hoyt (Team Hoyt), the selfless father who has been running marathons with his disabled son for years, and here's yet another amazing Dad who has totally devoted his life to helping his son, who was born without eyes and crippled at birth, to fulfill his dreams. Patrick Hughes, though born disabled, was gifted in other ways. He plays the piano beautifully, and the trumpet, and as a college student at the University of Louisville, was asked to join the marching band, wheelchair and all. So Dad works graveyard shift for UPS, so he can sit with his son during classes and band practice, and then wheel him around during the games. Basically Dad has no life, other than work and son, and yet he does it with love and joy.

The son, too, is an inspiration. He does not see himself as 'disabled' but with abilities, and indeed he does have many. I salute them both, and all those others who give of themselves without need for anything in return.

Get out the tissues.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Swedish Proverb- Fear less, hope more

Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; love more, and all good things will be yours.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Tips for buying and storing fresh produce

Fruits and veggies are an important addition to our daily food intake. They are chock full of vitamins and nutrients, and at least 5 servings per day, are recommended for a healthy diet. But those yummy fruits and veggies can also be carriers of food-borne illnesses that, oftentimes, can be fatal, so it's very important to handle those products in a safe manner, especially for those who are Raw Foodies.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has some great tips on how to safely handle fresh produce. The following information is courtesy of the FDA:

Buying Tips:

*when selecting fresh-cut produce, choose only those items that are refrigerated or surrounded by ice.

* Bag fresh fruits and vegetables separately from meat, poultry and seafood when packing them to take home.

Storage Tips:

* Store certain perishable fresh fruits and veggies (like strawberries, lettuce, herbs and mushrooms) in a clean refrigerator at a temperature of 40 degrees F. or below.

* All produce that is purchased pre-cut or peeled should be refrigerated.

Preparation and Handling Tips:

* Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce.

* Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits before preparing or eating. If it looks rotten, it should be discarded.

* All produce should be thoroughly washed before eating. Wash fruits and veggies under running water before eating, cutting or cooking.

* Even if you plan to peel the produce beofre eating it, it is still important to wash it first.

* Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush.
* Drying produce with a clean towel or paper towel may further reduce bacteria that may be present.

* Many pre-cut, bagged produce items such as lettuce are pre-washed. If so, it will be stated on the packaging. This pre-washed, bagged produce can be used without further washing. As an extra measure of caution, you can wash the produce again just before you use it. Pre-cut or pre-washed produce in open bags should be washed before using.

Focus On: Health Risks with Raw Sprouts

Raw sprouts that are served on salads, wraps, and sandwiches may contain bacteria that can cause food-borne illness. Rinsing sprouts first will not remove bacteria. Home-grown sprouts also present a health risk if they are eaten raw or lightly cooked.

To reduce the risk of illness, do not eat raw sprouts such as bean, alfalfa, clover, or radish sprouts. All sprouts should be cooked thoroughly before eating to reduce the risk of illness.

This advice is particularly important for children, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems, all of whom are at risk of developing serious illness due to food-borne disease.

In addition, be sure to:

Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counter tops with hot water and soap between the preparation of raw meat, poultry and seafood products and the preparation of produce that will not be cooked.

For added protection, kitchen sanitizers can be used on cutting boards and counter tops periodically. Try a solution of one teaspoon of chlorine bleach to one quart of water.
If you use plastic or other non-porous cutting boards, run them through the dishwasher after use.

I eat raw sprouts, but I make sure I wash them thoroughly before eating them. I also happen to wash all my fruits and veggies, even those that state they are pre-washed. You can never be sure.

But there's a saying in Spanish "Mugre que no mata, engorda." Or in other words, "dirt that doesn't kill, fattens", so I also don't go crazy.
Happy munching!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Basis of Homeopathy

Guest posted by Frasypoo at This and That

The basis of homeopathy

Like cures like
For example, if the symptoms of your cold are similar to poisoning by mercury, then mercury would be your homeopathic remedy.

Minimal Dose
The remedy is taken in an extremely dilute form; normally one part of the remedy to around 1,000,000,000,000 parts of water.

The Single Remedy
No matter how many symptoms are experienced, only one remedy is taken, and that remedy will be aimed at all those symptoms.

What I like about homeopathy medicines was that it was aimed towards the patient, it was not a one size fits all deal! I started getting migraines when I was 11, and it was horrible. I got those "auras" and puked all over my classroom!! My mom would be called to school to come and pick me up. Those days we did not have a telephone and there would be one person on the road I lived on who did, and they would have to pass on a message to my mother! Since my dad was at work, my mom would have to get an auto (a three wheeler taxi) and take me home!! What an ordeal! But my mom had migraines when she was young, and she decided to take me to the homeopath. It was a free clinic every Friday, and you had to get there 2 hours early! That was the only homeopath they knew. But once I started on medication I had very few attacks.

The pills are tiny, like little mustard seeds, and tasted like sugar. I also remember them telling me not to drink coffee! As I grew older I discontinued the medicine since the migraines were rare. I started getting them once a year when I moved here, and that's when I had to get my mom send me some. I wrote my entire case history on a letter and she took it to the homeopath.....a new one who lived near her house! But that's how we have been doing it so far. She mails them to me and it costs about $25.00. I could have labelled this post as how homeopathy saved my life, because it did. There are virtually no side effects, though the coffee part bothers me. I am not nice without my coffee in the mornings, but I switch to tea when I remember to do so.

Homeopathy works with your body and not against it. I would recommend it to anyone who would be willing to give it a try.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Broccoli banishes Prostate cancer, according to National Institute of Cancer

Looks like there's something to be said for the "eat your veggies" mantra parents have, for generations, forced down their children's, often unwilling, throats.

The BBC reports that, in the Journal of the National Institute of Cancer, researchers have claimed that eating cruciferous and dark green, leafy veggies (like broccoli, cauliflower and spinach), on a regular basis, can actually reduce the risk of prostate cancer! Apparently, those vegetables have anti-cancerous properties.
A study of 1,300 men found they [cauliflower and broccoli] were better than any other vegetable at protecting against aggressive tumours.
Although eating a balanced diet with lots of fruits and veggies can help maintain good health and reduce the risk of cancer, the study found that it was the increased consumption of cauliflower and broccoli, in particular, that decreased the risk of aggressive prostate cancer. They also contend that spinach can be helpful, but not to the extent that cauliflower and broccoli is.

A weekly serving of cauliflower was associated with 52% decreased risk of aggressive disease and similar amounts of broccoli cut the risk by 45%.
Most experts claim that eating a healthy, balanced diet with at least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables (including broccoli and cauliflower), per day, can be very helpful in preventing many different forms of cancers.

So go ahead, stock up on that broccoli, steam it, grill it, chop it up raw and serve with a dip, your prostate and other body parts will thank you for it.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Chinese Proverb: Birds of Sorrow

"You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair."

I love this Chinese proverb, particularly as someone who has suffered from depression, since childhood, and learned to overcome it.

Depression, for many, usually starts off with a thought or a feeling. And, although we have no control over those negative thoughts or feelings that randomly pop into our heads and hearts, we do have control over how long we indulge them. The longer we allow them to sit and fester within, the harder it becomes to dig ourselves out of the dark hole we have climbed into. The sooner you dismiss any negativity in your life, the sooner you become whole again. It truly is a question of choice. When a negative thought enters my mind, I immediately dismiss it. I refuse to give it any credence, and promptly replace it with a positive thought.

As for feelings of sorrow or depression, as soon as I start to feel that certain 'heaviness of heart', I acknowledge it, realize it is just an illusion and release it. The best thing to do is get on the mental plane, by doing something that involves some kind of mental activity. Or go out and be with people, watch a comedy, or read some kind of spiritual book. Sitting at home brooding will just worsen the situation.

The choice is ours. We just have to want to make that choice.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A basic intro to Ayurveda

Guest posted by Frasypoo from This and That.

Ayurveda has very rich history dating back to before 520 BC.
The basis for Ayurveda is Tridosha- Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

Vata is the air principle necessary to mobilize the function of the nervous system.

Pitta is the fire principle which uses bile to direct digestion and hence metabolism into the venous system.

Kapha is the water principle which relates to mucous, lubrication and the carrier of nutrients into the arterial system.

It is believed that when these three are well balanced then everything is great with a person's health! Ayurvedic medicines are made from herbs or mixtures of herbs, either alone or in combination with minerals, metals and other ingredients of animal origin. The metals, animals and minerals are purified by individual processes before being used for medicinal purposes. Ayurvedic medicines are in common use in almost every Indian household. There is a general hesitation with the older people in using "English medicine" as opposed to Ayurveda. It is because the side effects if any are very rare.

It is very common to find Ayurvedic soaps, creams, toothpastes etc on a shelf in an Indian house. I don't know if it's an Indian thing or if it's my family, but they hesitate before popping a pill. They would rather use something natural, like basil for a tummy ache or rubbing a balm on their forehead for a headache. I missed my natural meds when I came here and have ended up stocking it when my mom sends parcels, or when she visits !!

Looking forward to writing more posts on Ayurveda and Homeopathy and how it is used!

Monday, August 6, 2007

The wonders of Holistic medicine

Frasypoo, from This and That blog, is jumping on board with Mind, Body and Spirit. Frasy hails from India and is very knowledgeable about Ayurvedic and Homeopathic remedies, so when she has time, she will be posting about those alternative healing methods.

Ayurveda, like Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), is an ancient system of healing which has helped people for centuries. Homeopathy is relatively newer (from the early 1800s), but equally efficacious. As with allopathic (western) medicine, a certain amount of experimentation is needed, as certain methods will work better on certain people, but it is well worth the effort.

I have always been interested in alternative and complementary medicine, because not only does it work, there are far less risks involved when dealing with herbs etc. The major difference between western and holistic medicine is that western medicine merely treats the symptoms, whereas holistic medicine treats the body, mind and spirit as a whole. Those 3 aspects of our being are inextricably linked, and when one is out of balance, it can adversely affect the other aspects. So when you see a holistic practitioner, they will usually spend about an hour or an hour and a half for the initial consultation. They will ask a series of personal and health-related questions to get an idea of what might be out of sink. Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners (TCM) will check pulses and your tongue. This enables them to gauge how best to treat you. Unlike, allopathic medicine, it is definitely not a one size fits all kind of treatment.

I have had great success with alternative medicine. About 16 years ago I was diagnosed with severe Ulcerative Colitis (ulceration of the colon), an Auto-Immune disorder with no known cause or cure. Although most western doctors deny that nutrition has any bearing on the dis-ease, I discovered that cheese was always a factor in my flare-ups, so now I refuse to eat it. Thankfully, I have been in remission for 4 plus years, but my last flare-up lasted 9 months on western meds with no end in sight. Fed-up with my Gastroenterologist, who was at a loss as to why his meds weren't helping, I did some research on herbal remedies and opted to try a protocol of Robert's Formula (specifically for U.C.); a product called Intestinew by Renew Life (strengthens the integrity of the lining of the stomach and colon), and George's Roadrunner Aloe Vera juice (healing agent). Even though my doctor insisted herbs would be of no use, within a month I was starting to heal, and within 3 months I was in total remission. I've been fine ever since, without taking anything. That sold me on herbal remedies. Needless to say, I never went back to the doctor.

Then, in December of 2004, I became very ill with Rheumatoid Arthritis, another auto-immune disorder with no cure or known cause. Within 5 short weeks every joint in my body, from my shoulders down, was in excruciating pain. At one point I was hospitalized because they thought I was bleeding internally, from the 6 Advils per day that I was taking, which, by the way, did absolutely nothing for the pain. My SED Rate (the measure of inflammation in one's body) was 121, when I was first diagnosed. Normal is 0 to 20! I could barely walk, couldn't move my arms more than an inch or 2 from my body, because my shoulders froze from lack of use. It was just too darn painful to move them. I wish someone had warned me about the importance of exercise, even when in pain. It's very important to exercise when you have arthritic conditions.

At first, my Rheumatologist wanted to put me on Enbrel (a heavy-duty auto-immune suppressant) claiming my hands would become crippled and deformed if I didn't. Stubborn as I am, I refused. I agreed to take Bextra, but in the meantime I started seeing a TCM/Acupuncturist. I reached a plateau with him, and stopped. Meanwhile, had to have physical therapy (for the frozen shoulders). When I was done with that, I started seeing a Naturopath/Acupuncturist who helped me reach another level of wellness. In the meantime, I started researching and experimenting, on my own, with various herbs. Bextra went off the market, and yet I kept improving with just the herbs and supplements, much to the amazement of my Rheumatologist. My SED rate now fluctuates between 1 and 7, well within the normal range. And my knuckles are as perfect as they always were. Although a major sceptic at first, my Rheumatologist is now a believer, and has even told other patients about my success.
The only downside is that the healing process ,with most natural remedies, often takes longer, and you need to have patience. But for me it was truly well worth it. You also need to thoroughly research the products, so it is usually best to use the guidance of a holistic practitioner if you're not willing to take the risks, particularly if you are on western meds, as well.
The wonderful thing, though, is that there are certain complementary therapies, like acupuncture, that are becoming more widely accepted by the western medical establishment. I think people will benefit greatly from that emerging awareness and acceptance of the benefits of alternative medicine.