Monday, October 29, 2012

A National Concern. Please Help.

California's Proposition 37 would require genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to be labeled so people can make informed choices about what they eat. You would think it would win by a landslide.

Genetically modifying our food has not been proven safe. In fact, based on more and more studies, quite the opposite seems to be true. I can't say enough bad about GMOs. (Get the facts.) GMO-labeling is required by 50 other countries, including many first-world countries.

Health and common sense aside, the main reason I want to see Prop 37 to pass is to stand up to the big guys. Our government is not likely to do the regulating they ought because they are tightly linked to Monsanto and others of the biotech industry. The people need to stand up and say NO MORE! We should not blindly trust the judgment of the money-makers, after all, they've made mistakes before. As a friend of mine likes to say, do they really feel they can improve on God?

The opposition has poured millions of dollars into thrashing its chances of passing, and thanks to their cunning efforts, voters are being deterred every day from voting into law what seems like a basic human right: to know what we're eating. They are spending a million dollars a day right now misleading the public.

What if it doesn't pass? Well, at least it's come into the limelight. I know I can still do my regular sleuthing to figure out where the GMOs are hiding and avoid them (but it would save me a great deal of time and money to have those labels in front of me!). Many others may not know how to find that information. Buying organic is the quickest surefire way to avoid consuming them, as they're not permitted under organic standards.

Friends, California's Proposition 37 is a national concern!

  1. Pray every day. 
  2. If you live in CA, volunteer to hand out leaflets in public places, and spread the word to family, friends, coworkers, etc.
  3. If you live elsewhere, you can sign up to call CA voters.
  4. Donate to keep TV and radio ads running, desperately needed at this point to counter the opposition's attack.
See for more great ads and information.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

It's All in the Name

This weekend I made applesauce.  But I overspiced it a bit, and so I decided maybe the best way to salvage it was to make fruit leather.  So I poured the applesauce onto parchment paper and filled most of my dehydrator, using the extra space for some nuts I had been soaking.

To my disappointment, when I opened up my dehydrator and tried to roll up my leather in the paper, it crackled and snapped into pieces.  I had poured it too thin!  Or dehydrated it too long.  Or both.  It was my first fruit leather disaster.

But it still tasted good!  Once it was in your mouth you could fold it in half with your tongue as it softened, and it would dissolve like autumn.  What had been too much spice for the applesauce (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves), was perfect in my ruined fruit leather.

Or was it ruined?  I decided all it needed was a new name: Apple Spice Paper.

Really, we are only ever disappointed when we expected something different than we got, based on the name.  So just change the name!  I remember a post by Amy Thompson wherein she messed up a popsicle recipe on television --- it was supposed to be a green "frog eggs" popsicle, with chia seeds for the eggs, but it somehow turned out brown.  So she renamed it "frog eggs in mud" on the spot.  What would you expect from a popsicle by that name?  Probably something brown.  Voila.  Zero disappointment.

We do this all the time.  A botched audition that you once labeled "the chance of a lifetime" suddenly gets a new name: "a good experience."  A knitting project that was supposed to be  a winter scarf is now a matching set of potholders.  We rename things to save face, but it's not just a practice in vanity.  By renaming something we are changing it in an essential way --- we give it a new life, a second chance.  It is a practice in generosity, in openness, in forgiveness.

And apple spice paper is my new favorite treat.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Cold and Flu Season

Last week my lovely herbalist aunt, Nancy Peterson, posted on her blog about some natural remedies for colds.  The information was so good, I asked my aunt if I could post it here.  I hope you find it as useful as I did!

As per a few requests, I am sharing some suggestions that work for me in getting over colds more easily. 

First, an illustration:

     In simplistic terms our body can be likened to a wood stove.  Like a stove, we take in fuel and air and burn them to create heat and energy.  Naturally, the better quality of fuel and air we receive, the hotter and cleaner our stove will burn with a minimum of waste.  When the fuel we take in is inferior, like eating lots of junk food, the fire will burn poorly and our bodies will get clogged with waste.  This will result in a lack of energy to properly run the body's many functions and we will eventually end up getting sick.  (In addition to eating clean foods to prevent toxic build-up, fasting is a good natural way to help clear out the toxins.)   

The theory is that the symptoms of many diseases are the results of the body's efforts to remove the waste material from the system.  There are four "chimneys" through which this waste can be eliminated - the digestive tract, the urinary system, the skin and the respiratory passages.  When the body tries to use the digestive tract we can experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.  When the body uses the skin we experience body odor, rashes, pimples and pox.  If the respiratory passages are used we experience runny noses, coughs, earaches, sore throats and so on.  Using the kidneys results in kidney and bladder irritations and infections.  Fevers are seen as the body's efforts to "burn  up" waste material to be eliminated more easily.   

So, "the cold is the cure", as stated by Dr. Steven Horne, in that through this process of elimination, which unfortunately results in symptoms we don't like, our bodies are getting rid of the waste or toxins that are creating this condition.  "Germs" actually feed on toxins, and by eliminating these toxins, the germs will no longer be able survive.  Naturally then, by helping the body to do it's job of getting rid of, or flushing out these toxins, we will get well faster.  And conversely, trying to block this process (such as using anti-histamines to stop the nose from running) we will delay getting well.  Our bodies know just what to do to rid themselves of these toxins but the process can be slow.  By using herbs, pure water and other natural means we can help the body to accomplish this task more quickly.  

SO, with these basic principles in mind, following are a few tips that work well for me:

     At the first hint of a cold coming on take warming herbs to heat up the depressed body.  (Xpac helps with this too.) For me two capsules of cayenne and a tall drink of water work well.  Some people take this as often as every hour with no other food and this alone can help you get better in just a few hours.  Children should take milder warming herbs like ginger, cinnamon or peppermint.  It should be noted that it's good to give the digestive system a rest during this process. The more simple the foods we eat the better; like clear broth soups, juices and teas. 

Along with warming herbs, I also take yarrow (tea or capsules) to relax and open the pores of the skin so that the toxins can "dump" more easily.  (Yarrow is also mildly anti-viral and anti-bacterial, as well as helping to stop bleeding.)  To enhance the effects of the yarrow (peppermint works too) take a hot bath or shower and wrap up to keep warm to speed the process.  Remember to drink a lot during this process. 

It is also important for children and adults to clear the bowels quickly as toxins can be reabsorbed into the bloodstream.  (Is this too much information? :) We use Dr. Christopher's Lower Bowel formula. 

If the symptoms are upper respiratory, sinus rinses are also useful.  We use Neil Med sinus irrigators from Costco.  Rinsing your sinuses is also a good preventive measure if you are around others who are sick as it may stop an infection before it even begins.  (And speaking of preventative measures, echinacea should not be taken at the same time as vitamin C  as it will render it less effective.)  Sinus rinses are also useful for calming sore throats as the irritation is often caused by toxins dripping down from the sinuses.  Another good remedy for sore throats is cayenne stirred into a spoonful of raw honey.    

In addition to these simple steps we take, here are a few other herbal tips for fighting colds:

     For early cold symptoms consider using lemons, elderberry, vitamin C, wild cherry.

     For old cold symptoms more useful are garlic, horsetail, thyme and rosemary.

     For a yellowish tongue, bitter herbs like horehound and goldenseal.

I hope these suggestions are helpful.  Feel free to share other ideas you have.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Entering Ayurveda: Oil Pulling

Recently a friend of mine emailed me and asked me about oil pulling. I'd never heard of it, so I set out to do some research. This is what I've learned, sorry if my thoughts are a little scattered:

Oil pulling is the ancient Ayurvedic practice of taking a tablespoon of sunflower or sesame oil, (coconut oil is OK, but does not have as strong of an affect apparently), into your mouth every morning and swishing it around for 15-20 minutes, and then spitting it out. It was encouraged as a dental hygiene practice, but also as a way of cleansing the body of toxins. It has even been purported as curing dental rot, gum issues, cancer, allergies, and many, many other ailments. Many people claim the practice has whitened their teeth as well.

It is called pulling because of the deliberate pulling of the oil around through the mouth -- through teeth, over and under the tongue, paying special attention to make sure the oil reaches even as far back as the soft palate. There are also other obvious implications in the name as you are pulling toxins out of precious your body. The specifics: Perform the pulling first thing every morning on an empty stomach (this is an ideal time for meditation, praying, and/or reading the scriptures for those of us who practices those). You wake cleanse your mouth, including your tongue, and take the oil, performing the swishing motion for 15-20 minutes. You know it is working, or that you have swished long enough, when the oil in your mouth becomes a thin, milky white, much less viscous than it originally was. When you have spit, again cleanse your mouth, including the tongue, and drink two or three glasses of water. (The water helps flush any loosened toxins out of your body.)

Because it is a whole body cleansing practice, and the toxins are exiting your body through your mouth, people who try it commonly experience small discomforts during the first week such as swollen gums, teeth that feel a little loose, minor sore throat etc. What I've read also strongly cautions those who follow this practice to never spit spent oil in a place where others will come into contact with it, since it will contain toxins. Ideally wash it down the sink. And try your hardest not to swallow what you are swishing.

Yesterday while I was reading up on it I thought I might as well swish some coconut oil, since I had it handy. I am being completely honest when I say, my mouth felt like I'd just been to the dentist for a thorough cleaning. My teeth felt so smooth, and I did notice my throat felt a little raw for a while after. I had to fudge a little, and try it in the afternoon while my sons were napping -- I don't know how to do it in the morning with a toddler running around :) Attractive, no?

I don't know very much about Ayurvedic medicine, but what I do know appeals to me as it emphasizes a strong connection between body and spirit. The information I've read on this practice mentions repeatedly that a person who performs this practice will be strong physically and mentally, and a hard worker.

I'll have to continually alter the practice a little and do it while my babes are sleeping in the afternoon, but whose up for trying this with me?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Toy Rotation

We've had a "one toy out at a time" rule for some time (stifle that laugh, please). With two well-meaning but highly imaginative, active boys to keep up with, we mostly find ourselves nagging, "Uh-oh! Looks like we have more than one toy out right now." "You can get that one out after these are put away." "How many toys are out right now?" "What's the toy rule, boys??" We generally do a toy sweep before nap and before bed, but it often takes so long that we lose out on precious story time. A true tragedy, we all agree.

We don't have too many toys (we like it that way), but the kids don't tend to stick with one plaything for long, so they can go through them fairly quickly. And more often than not, we find all sorts of non-toys made toys scattered among the true toys (you know: sticks, buckets, jars, hangers, stolen items from various places, etc. etc.), which makes clean-up even more daunting. Ask any child, it's much more fun to get them out than put them back!

The "one toy" rule just hasn't worked, so we're trying something new. The toy rotation.

They set themselves up for it, really. After they shamelessly gutted every toy from the closet last Monday, we seized the opportunity to have them look everything over and choose three toys to play with for the upcoming week. They chose the magnet trains and tracks, the shape cube, and the big blocks (as we call them). Everything else went in the blue tub or on a closet shelf, not to be touched. All the books and the easel also remained out. And that little tent.

Their closet looks neater and clean-up has been easier on everyone. If they wanted to play with something they didn't choose, they could keep it in mind for the next rotation (which we'll do during Monday Family Night). When they did get the designated toys out, they played with them more thoroughly than before. For now, it's a good solution. More fun, more organization, and best of all, more peace.

How do you organize and clean up your toys at home?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Don't Throw Away that Pineapple Core!

I got a great deal on pineapples a couple weeks ago, and although we couldn't resist eating a couple of them fresh, I dehydrated the rest for our winter snack/toppings store!  I dried all the juicy fleshy stuff in my dehydrator:

But what to do with all those cores?  A year ago I would have thrown them all away, but I have learned since then that sometimes the least "tasty" parts of a fruit or vegetable (or animal) are the most nutritious!  So I researched pineapple cores, and confirmed my suspicion.  It has valuable nutrients, at least one of which is not even found in the fleshy parts!

    • Fiber - for healthy digestion and strong immunities
    • Vitamin C - great for the immune system during cold/flu season
    • Manganese - for proper bone formation and synthesis of fatty acids
    • Copper - helps your body utilize iron and produce melanin
    • Bromelain - a protein enzyme with strong anti-inflammatory properties

Pineapple cores and skins are the best place to find bromelain, in particular.  How could we throw such nutrient-rich treasures away??

So I decided to blend up one of my pineapples completely (minus the skin), along with all the cores of the other six.  I then poured the pulpy mixture onto parchment paper, as though I were making fruit leather, and dehydrated it as well.  (Seven pineapple cores, plus one pineapple's worth of fleshy fruit, took up three trays in my dehydrator).  Twelve hours later, I had a dry, thin "plate" of pineapple!  Sorry I didn't take a picture at this point.  I broke the brittle plate into pieces, and voila...

Pineapple core chips!

They are tangy and delicious, and perfect for the medicine cabinet in case of a sprang or a pulled tendon.  If only they would last til then...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Two Kinds of Sloppy

This is what we had for dinner twice this week.  We all love it!  The original recipe is from Passionate Homemaking (she also has a slow cooker version, which I bet would work great in a Sun Oven).

3 cups water (I used homemade chicken stock instead)
1 cup lentils, rinsed
salt to taste (optional)
1 cup chopped onion
3 tablespoons olive oil
15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2-1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
2 coves garlic (I always up the garlic)
1/2 cup ketchup (or try this traditional recipe... or consider it optional...)
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
3-5 tablespoons rapadura, molasses, or honey (mmmmolasses...)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
salt and ground black pepper to taste

Optional soaking step (for benefits read here): Allow lentils to soak overnight in warm filtered water with 2 T. acid medium (whey, lemon juice, vinegar, kefir, etc.). Rinse lentils thoroughly and proceed...

Combine water and lentils in a saucepan; season to taste with salt if desired. Bring to a boil, then simmer over medium-low heat until tender, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, sauté onions in olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Simmer 5-10 minutes until thickened. Taste.

Drain lentils and reserve cooking liquid. Stir lentils into sauce mixture, adding cooking liquid or water as needed to obtain desired "sloppy joe" consistency. Serve on buns (we just used my bread).


2) SLOPPY JOESwith liver in disguise
Lest I be thought to shun one of Earth's best sources of B12 and heme iron, let me share another favorite. This one's for all you postpartum mamas out there!

A couple weeks ago Meredith asked me for my Sloppy Joe recipe, which up until now has existed only in my head. Its beauty is its flexibility. If you've never followed a vague recipe before, you're in for some fun! The big secret (sshhhh...) is tasting and tweaking until you like how it tastes. :)

1+ lb. calf or grass-fed beef liver, prepared as indicated
2+ lbs. grass-fed ground beef
A few tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1-2 bell peppers, chopped
Several cloves crushed garlic 
2 big cans (28 oz.?) diced tomatoes
At least 1 can tomato paste
Maybe 1 can tomato sauce
or you could use fresh tomatoes for all of the above (somehow)
Any other diced up veggies that suit your fancy... zucchini works well
1+ tablespoons chili powder
A healthy drizzle of molasses
A splash or two of vinegar, maybe balsamic or red wine
A dash cayenne or hot pepper sauce 
Salt and pepper as needed

Cut up the liver into bite-size pieces and let it soak in a bowl of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice while you start preparing the rest of the dish (you can get it going an hour or two earlier if you think of it). This will help neutralize the strong flavor of the liver. Then grind it up in any food processor (which you should clean promptly, trust me).

Sauté onions and peppers in olive oil until tender. Add garlic. Add meat/liver and brown a bit (the slower they cook, the better). Add everything else. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for however long (will be ready to eat fairly quickly, but flavors might amalgamate better if you let it go longer). I always taste it several times before serving and have Keenan taste it too, just to make sure it's our favorite.

Spoon too much onto your bread and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I promised a while ago, (a long while), to write a post on which eggs are the most nutritious to buy. I have been a little busy growing, and then birthing a new babe! (Yay for babies!! They are amazing!) So in lieu of a long post about eggs that I was going to write, I found this really great article. It includes some really great words of wisdom on cooking eggs as well.

And a word of advice: if you don't have access to a farmers market, look for the word 'pastured' on the label of the eggs you buy from the grocery store. I won't lie, they are more expensive. The health benefits are worth it! As the good doctor who wrote the above article states, the words 'free-range' don't necessarily mean what they seem...


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Wheat Berry Chili

This delicious chili has become a go-to recipe at our house.  It's the perfect meal for these lovely autumn evenings.  It comes from 

Wheat Berry Chili

6 servings, about 1 1/2 cups each
Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed
  • 2 14-ounce cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1-2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced (see Tip)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 2 cups Cooked Wheat Berries
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add beans, tomatoes, chipotle to taste, broth and brown sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes.
  2. Stir in cooked wheat berries and heat through, about 5 minutes more. (If using frozen wheat berries, cook until thoroughly heated.) Remove from the heat. Stir in lime juice. Garnish each bowl with avocado and cilantro.

Tips & Notes

  • Tip: Canned chipotle peppers (smoked jalapeños) in adobo sauce add heat and a smoky flavor. Look for the small cans with other Mexican foods in large supermarkets. Once opened, store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator or 6 months in the freezer.


Per serving: 386 calories; 11 g fat (1 g sat, 7 g mono); 61 g carbohydrates; 14 g protein; 15 g fiber; 703 mg sodium; 311 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (130% daily value), Fiber (72% dv), Folate (48% dv), Iron & Vitamin A (25% dv).
3 Carbohydrate Serving
Exchanges: 3 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 very-lean meat, 2 fat