Tag Archives: health

Reasons & Recipes To Make The Lowly Legume Your New BFF

18 Feb

ImageFunny sounding name, don’t you think? It always got more than a few snickers in grade school as our teacher robotically recited the food groups as part of the state mandated curriculum. We never really knew what it meant; in fact if you ask most adults, they are equally ignorant. Turns out one of every kids favorite dishes, baked beans, is actually the mysterious legume.

Fast forward to the Northeast Blackout of 2003, when the power-grid went down plunging several states and Canadian provinces into darkness for days, taking other utilities and gas stations down with it. Like many, I was sent home early from work and soon found myself at the local supermarket. Anything refrigerated or frozen had been sealed off from the panicked shoppers; a 30ish woman was running up and down the aisles wailing repeatedly “what will I feed my children?” At first I though she was a total idiot but then it occurred to me, she was of a generation that was raised on prepackaged processed microwavable food and she had no clue about nutrition, meal preparation or real food. Truth be told, other than canned tuna or peanut butter, I was at a bit of loss on how I would get protein in the uncertain days or weeks ahead. That’s when I rediscovered legumes.

Turns out legumes are a major component of everything from the hummus in your pita to the refried beans in your burrito, but there is a whole world of legumes out there. For those of you who wish to get your protein from places other than the fatty toxic mix of pesticides, growth hormones and antibiotics infused meat of stressed-out diseased animals from factory farms; legumes provide a wonderful alternative. Legumes are also a great source of essential vitamins, minerals, cholesterol lowering fiber and slowly digestible carbohydrates, which are especially important if you are diabetic or at risk. See nutritional chart.

While legumes are available fresh, most people use the canned or dried form for convenience. Canned legumes have a shelf life of about 5 years & are packed in liquid, which make them the preferred staple for an emergency pantry when fresh water may not be available due to extreme weather conditions. Dried legumes are the least expensive, and are best for storage since they are less bulky and have a 10 year shelf life, while lacking the sodium, preservatives & chemicals used in the packaging of the canned variety. The best prices on dried legumes are usually found at Indian grocers. Dried legumes need to soak overnight and usually cooked for an hour; see cooking chart.

RECIPES

If you or your family is new to legumes, you may want to start out slowly. Here are some easy tasty recipes, one for each legume, that include something for everyone: dip, salad, crunchy snack, soup, side dish and main dish. Enjoy!

Make legumes your new BFF, and you will be trilled at how much it trims from your grocery bill as well as your waistline.

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Is Your Moisturizer Toxic? Natural, Inexpensive Alternatives You’ll Love!

23 Jan

ImageIt’s a common problem this time of year; dry, flaky, itchy winter skin. It’s not just exposure to frigid temperatures and bitter winds, but dryer than usual indoor air bolstered by furnaces and wood-burners, as well as long hot showers to a stave off the chill, all culminate in to a blizzard of dry dead skin cells each time we disrobe. Dry flaky skin is not only uncomfortable, but opens the body to infection through the skin and worsens respiratory allergies by giving dust mites an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Before I give you the recipes, I’m going to school you first. First, let’s talk about staying hydrated. Drink plenty of water and avoid diuretics like caffeinated beverages and cold medicines. Use a home humidifier. Do not take hot bath or showers. The hot water washes away skin’s protective oils along with harsh, soap-based cleansers wash away the outermost layer of protective skin cells. Use only hypoallergenic body soap, Dove Sensitive is the best according to my doctor, especially for your delicate bits & pieces. Use only hypoallergenic laundry products and do not use fabric softener since towels are meant to be a bit rough to gently exfoliate loose skin.

Now let’s talk moisturizers. The skin is the body’s largest organ; what goes on our skin in absorbed into our bloodstream. Why do you think they tell pregnant women not to even handle certain medications? The bottom line is this: if you wouldn’t put it in your mouth, why would you slather it on your skin?

Commercially produced moisturizers are not only an unnecessary expense, but are full of toxins. Think baby oil (mineral oil) and Vaseline (petroleum jelly) are safe, especially for your baby? Think again! Petroleum based products coat the skin like Saran Wrap, clogging pores causing blemishes and interfering with the body’s ability to rid itself of toxins via the skin, but also affects the liver’s ability to process nutrients, and are known carcinogens, not to mention the harm to the environment from fossil fuel extraction. Only about 1% of any moisturizer has all of their ingredients screened by the FDA, and more than half contain known toxins. Here are just some of the most common culprits:

  • Artificial colorings: carcinogenic and often contain heavy metals such as lead and arsenic.
  • DEA, MEA & TEA: hormone-disrupting chemicals and form cancer-causing agents.
  • Formaldehyde: carcinogenic & mutagenic, damaging and inhibiting the repair of DNA, also used to embalm dead bodies.
  • Petroleum (mineral oil jelly): we just talked about this, baby oil & Vaseline.
  • Propylene Glycol: another petroleum based carcinogen, also used to de-ice airplanes.
  • Synthetic Fragrances: can cause headaches, dizziness, rashes, coughing & vomiting.

So what do you do about it? Here are some natural, inexpensive and highly effective products and recipes, for use as topical moisturizers (face, body, lip & hair) as well as soothing baths. Store all oil based products in a sealed container, in a cool dry place away from direct light. All of these are safe for kids and pets too.

  1. Crisco (vegetable shortening). This stuff has more uses than duct tape & is dirt cheap!  Since this 100% plant based cream is hypoallergenic and safe for the most sensitive skin, no wonder it is a popular choice in hospitals and medical schools as a lubricant and moisturizer. Most common uses are: sexual lubricant, make-up remover, hair conditioner (if you straighten or curl coarse textured hair with hot irons), post-bath moisturizer (use on slightly damp skin), dry cracked skin treatment (before bed, apply to clean hands & feet, cover with cotton socks & gloves). Most people put it in a clean glass lidded jar, so they don’t have to have the tub sitting out.
  2. Coconut oil. This a great alternative if you don’t want to use Crisco as a facial moisturizer. This oil is easily absorbed through the skin; rapidly hydrating, conditioning, and shielding the skin from moisture loss. It contains vitamins A, B, C, and E, and its protective anti-oxidant qualities protect the skin from free radicals and other environmental aging factors, as well as having properties that protect against viral, fungal, and bacterial infections, including yeast. To make a balm: use an electric mixer to whisk 1c of cool coconut oil (optional add 1t Vitamin E oil & a few drops essential oil for fragrance) for about 7min or until the correct consistency. Place in a lidded glass jar & store in a cool dry place out of direct light.
  3. Oatmeal bath. Make your own Aveeno soothing bath using rolled oats & a blender. While Aveeno runs about $8 for 12oz, you can buy a 2lb canister of generic rolled oats for about $2 at Aldi’s. Just make sure you get the plain rolled oats, not steel cut or flavored with sugar. After I’ve reduced it into a fine power in the blender, I store it in a plastic flip-top powdered coffee creamer container my neighbor was going to put in the recycling bin, and just sprinkle in a bathtub of warm water and soak the itchy skin away.
  4. Olive Oil. Contains antioxidants including vitamins A, D, E, & K, and is best used on very rough dry skin, wrinkles, stretch marks & scars since it is not as quickly absorbed as other natural oils like coconut. It also holds up well in body and bath oils. When making these mixtures, I prefer to use a new plastic flip-top shaker bottle or squeeze bottle, and be sure to store in a cool dry place away from direct light. Bath oil: Combine 1oz Extra Virgin olive oil, 1oz Sweet Almond oil, 1/2oz of Grape Seed oil & 10-15 drops of your choice of essential oil in bottle, cover tightly & shake until blended. Body oil: Combine 1oz Extra Virgin olive oil, 1oz Avocado oil & 1oz of Wheat Germ oil in a bottle and shake until well blended. Apply sparingly to damp skin after bathing, spreading with hands, then pat dry with towel or air dry.

So what did we learn today? De-icer is for airplanes, embalming fluid is for corpses, petroleum is for cars, and NONE of them should ever be used on your body. So skip the drugstore and shop the grocery store for gorgeous skin as nature intended. Your wallet and your body will thank you!

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How To Fight Colds, Flu & Allergies

17 Jan

ImageCold and Flu season is upon us with a vengeance, but what if I told you there were safe, effective, and inexpensive natural ways to reduce colds, flu & allergies? Think it’s too good to be true? Think again! These methods have been used all over the world for generations, long before the FDA even existed, and are guaranteed lobbyist and Madison Avenue free!

Even if you don’t have medical issues, prescription and over-the-counter medications can have many unwanted side effects, these natural methods are gentler and far more effective since they not only address the symptoms but strengthen the body’s natural defenses. Always check your doctor before using any method, even if it’s natural. I’m going to tell you about my top 3 ways to detoxify the body and boost your immune system and have included links for more details, including the recipes and demonstration videos depending on what interests you. These methods are also helpful in treating numerous physical and mental ailments. They are also handy if you are engaged in a weight-loss, smoking session, or alcohol & drug rehab program, since it is all about detoxification. Follow directions exactly for each or not only will you ruin the results, but it may cause harm or at least discomfort. Substitutions & shortcuts may seem tempting, but don’t do it.

  1. Neti Pot. This will give you instant relief. I call it “the nose enema”, but before you get all squeamish, think about how many times you blow you nose in public, carry around snotty tissues, use nasal spray, hocker, or heaven forbid…pick your nose. Now that is what I call disgusting, not washing out your sinuses in the privacy of your home bathroom. It works by washing mucus and debris out of your nasal passages, including viruses, germs & allergens. It also soothes dry passages that cause nosebleeds and reduces swelling and irritation. Cool huh? Best of all, it’s safe for pregnant women & those with medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, unlike over the counter and prescription drugs. For a complete list of respiratory conditions it helps, click this link. Just a few words of advice: use the pot that looks like a ceramic genie lamp, not the plastic kind; clean and sterilize after each use; use the recipe with baking soda; follow directions exactly, using the exact ingredients & temperature; practice makes perfect, but not too often. Click this link for the demo video.
  2. Liver & gall bladder cleanse. This is best to use right after you have recovered to remove toxins form germs, viruses and medications. Face it, we are full of poop which plasters our intestinal walls, preventing the good stuff from getting absorbed & the bad stuff from getting dumped. Our livers and gall bladders are overworked dealing with not only the environmental toxins beyond our control, but those we ingest willingly, like processed foods and prescription medications. This cleanse addresses both issues. I’m not going to lie to you, it’s not fun, but you will feel fantastic afterward. Not only will you feel great and have more energy, but you will notice other things, like the dark circle and bags under your eyes will practically disappear. Click this link for a full list of health benefits.I set aside a weekend to do this, since you will need to stay close to a toilet. Just a few tips: follow the directions and don’t cut corners or substitute ingredients; cut down or stop caffeine & nicotine a few days before so you will sleep better; sleep on your back only & not flat; make sure none of your containers contain metal; use a straw to drink all mixtures and put it at the back of your tongue so you can’t taste anything. Here’s a link to the recipes and step-by-step directions. And while I have never passed stones as such, I have passed lots of these pre-stones that look like day-glo green peas. Cool huh?
  3. Massotherapy. This is the kind you find at a clinic, not in the back of a free local entertainment newspaper. This method works by moving toxins out of your tissues via the lymphatic system. If you have ever had a muscle cramp which eased when you rubbed it, you understand what happens when toxins build up. As your muscles relax your sinuses will drain like crazy too, so be prepared. Massotherapy can be expensive and is not often covered by insurance, so to save money I go to my local massotherapy school. Just a few tips: drink plenty of water afterward and pee to get rid of the toxins and prevent a nasty headache; Epsom salt bath afterward can also pull toxins out through the skin; avoid cold temperatures and physical exertion afterward to allow the body to heal. Here’s a link to the health benefits and conditions detox massotherapy addresses.

Here’s some links to some other detox methods I like to use, along with a surprising list of the physical and mental conditions they help, including autism. It helps to have a variety of methods available depending on your individual needs and situation.

So unless you have someone to wait on your hand and foot when you get sick, you crave the attention, and don’t care about the cost to your wallet and liver; try these methods and I think you will be shocked at how good you feel and wonder why you didn’t do this sooner.

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Is Bacon the New Ketchup?

28 Sep

ImageTwitter was all abuzz lately with rumors of a projected Aporkalypse. The summer drought has caused little piggies to go to market well before their optimum porkaliciousness, yielding less meat now and creating a paucity of pending porkers until next season. In light of this looming crisis, perhaps it’s an opportunity to rethink our relationship with the little oinkers, rather than just whine about the lack of swine.

Let’s face it, bacon isn’t exactly health food, nor did it ever claim to be so. I’m not a big meat eater, especially when it comes to pork, but not even I can resist the siren’s song of those tasty little pig strips better known as bacon. Unless you have been a sleep for the last decade, you know that most of our pork products come from horrific factory farms full of filth, disease, antibiotics, artificial hormones, pesticide & GMO livestock feed, animal cruelty and corporate greed; in short, you’d be better off eating roadkill.

What to buy.

If you are going to eat pork, eat the good stuff; I say this for a number of reasons. First of all, you want to avoid all the pollutants that come in factory farm pork. Never buy prepackaged meats; if it comes in shrink-wrap, it is definitely from a factory farm. It also means that they use a cheaper curing method that causes you to lose most of your purchase in the drip tray because what you really paid for is meat plumped up with water. When you buy meat from a reputable butcher the curing process is very different, you get to eat most of what you paid for since it does not cook off, not to mention that the taste and texture is far superior.

Let me break it down for you. The cheapest bacon in my area is Aldi’s for around $4/lb. After cooking it yields only about 1/2 to 1/3 of my original purchase. If I want it soft, it is way too fatty, and if I want to cook off more of the fat, the flesh becomes like a cinder. Yuck! For about the same price per pound (surprise surprise) I can buy nicely marbled Amish raised pork from a butcher at The Westside Market with very little lost in cooking. I go even cheaper and buy the bacon ends for only $1.50/lb., which are the irregular shaped ends of the bacon slab that could not fit through the slicer. So after cooking I get about 14oz of really tasty and healthier bacon for $1.50, OR for $4 get 6oz of crappy tasting and texture bacon full of harmful chemicals. You can clearly see which one gives you better value for your money, but don’t take my word for it, try it yourself.

How to cook it.

Another way to get the most out of your bacon is to cook it in the oven in a broiler pan. In this day and age there is no reason to cook your bacon on the stovetop in a frying pan; you are not a cowboy out on the lone prairie cooking your victuals in a black cast-iron skillet over a campfire. When you cook in the oven, you don’t have to watch and turn it constantly, you don’t have the safety risks of grease fire or burns from hot grease, there’s virtually no mess, and the bacon cooks more evenly, whether you like your bacon crisp or soft. If you are not using a broiler pan, you are essentially deep frying your meat which creates that unappetizing greasy cindered result.

Bacon as a condiment.

The recommended amount of meat per meal is about the size of that person’s hand. I like to feel like I got the most out of my portion and bacon is a great way to do that; because it is so flavorful, a little goes a long way. Rather than use bacon as my meat, I use it as a condiment, like ketchup. You can enhance the flavor of a dish by adding only an ounce or less. Crumbled bacon is great on salads, baked potatoes, roasted vegetables, omelets, even as a garnish to top your soup or other meats. You get your biggest bang for your buck with legumes; a cheap form of protein, vitamins, minerals and cholesterol lowering fiber. Not only are legumes very filling, but they take on the flavor of whatever you mix in, and that’s were bacon can come in very handy. Since legumes are best slow-cooked (I use a crockpot), I dice my bacon ends, instead of crumble or shave, to preserve the texture; otherwise, it just melts away. If you are new to legumes, start with something simple, like BBQ Baked Beans or Split Pea Soup.

Cutting back on pork will improve your health, keep more money in your wallet, and put less strain on the environment. So you don’t have to break-up with pork, just rethink your relationship a little.

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How To Survive The Impending Milk Apocalypse

25 Aug

ImageRight about now mothers all over the USA are fretting about the likely price hike and shortage of milk in the near future due to the current drought. The International Dairy Federation estimates the average American consumes about 23 gallons of liquid milk per year, and that does not include the abundance of products that contain milk.

The average cow drinks about 50 gallons of water a day and produces about 6 gallons of milk. But what about all the water needed to produce the 100 pounds of feed a cow eats each day, not to mention water used for sanitation and procession of milk and milk products? In all, it takes a whopping 2,000 gallons of water to produce just one gallon of milk. Does that sound like a great return on investment to you?

Rather than being paralyzed by the impending milk Apocalypse, now is a great opportunity to break dependence on milk consumption. But wait, the TV says “milk does a body good” so it must be true, right? That message is brought to you by Madison Avenue, the same people who told you cigarettes were not only not dangerous, but that they were actually good for you and that doctors recommended smoking! For generations people bought that crap hook, line and sinker and for generations we have paid the price both financially and in human suffering.

If you are “lactose intolerant”, congratulations; you are actually normal. Yup, no animal was designed to drink another animal’s milk nor drink milk beyond infancy when babies loose their “baby teeth”, and humans are no exception.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or still believe the world is flat, you know most milk does not come from picturesque farms where happy cows graze lazily on lush hillsides, but from inhumane, filthy, factory farms were abused, stressed, and often diseased animals are pumped full antibiotics and synthetic hormones; not to mention a whole host of pollutants from pesticides to diesel fuel. Yum-yum! You, in turn, are feeding this to your precious babies. Dairy product consumption has been linked to numerous illnesses and diseases such as diabetes, breast cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, various allergies and Crohn’s disease.

So what do you do about it?

Back in the 1970’s when there was a milk shortage, we poured cold water over our cereal or just ate it right out of the box; it wasn’t a big deal. Today great milk alternatives like rice, soy, and almond, are chock full of nutrition with out the harmful chemicals. The protein and calcium that you get from milk you can easily get from other sources. Click on this link for a handy nutrition chart of great alternatives.

With no shortage of online recipe sites, it’s never been easier to incorporate good nutrition into your daily meals. Children imitate their parents so you will have to set the example by eating your vegetables, but you’re all big boys and girls now so I have no doubt you can handle it. You’re going to do great!

Fun & Yummy Recipes For Farmer’s Market Finds

16 Aug

ImageFarmer’s Markets are a great way to support the local economy while incorporating the freshest produce into your summer menus. But you might be reluctant to take advantage of some of the greatest bargains because you can’t quite visualize what form they would take on your dinner plate. Well, wonder no more; here are some fun and yummy recipes at the ready!

Carrots: Don’t try to tell your kids carrot fries are the same as French Fries or it will be an epic fail. Instead just let them enjoy it as a tasty and fun way to eat carrots.

Turnips: Ditto. Don’t even tell them these fries are turnips.

Beets: Mmm, crunchy chips!

Loose leaf lettuce: Crunchy and light alternative to flour wraps.

Yellow squash: Everything is tastier off the grill!

Zucchini: Great as bread or muffin for breakfast, snacks or dessert.

Cabbage: Crispy and refreshing salad.

Tomatoes: These are great paired with broiled fish!

For 45 million Americans who rely on food stamps to make ends meet, most Farmers Markets now accept EBT/SNAP cards (which only makes sense since food stamps is a USDA program designed to help subsidize farmers by making food surplus available to the poor). So, in the words of the late great Julia Child, “bon appetite”!

When To Trash Your Make-Up

1 Aug

ImageWe all do it; finally find your favorite color and stock up for the Apocalypse.  But aside from the danger of being a time-warp fashion victim, you are setting yourself up for some serious health problems.

Expired cosmetics not only fail to perform, but also result in skin irritation, dermatitis, allergic reactions and infection. Then there’s the problems caused by dirty make-up and applicators, and yes I’m talking about “the f-word”…feces! Critters include infectious bacteria such as staphylococcus, micro-coccus, and E. coli; causing attractive conditions like herpes, pink eye, strep throat, skin boils and abscesses. I know you’re a clean person but think of all the things you touch in your own home, like door knobs and faucets handles, that are loaded with germs no matter how much you clean.

So what’s a girl to do? Here are some helpful tips:

Never share make-up. I don’t care if it’s you BFF or your twin sister; this is one of those situations where it is OK to be selfish.

Step away from the testers. I know it’s hard when those cloying cosmetic sirens are beckoning you from the display, but be strong and don’t touch them. Picture a dirty public toilet; I don’t care how ritzy the store is. Ditto with mall makeovers, I don’t care if they do use fresh applicators, you don’t know where the opened product has been.

Know your dates. There are 2 dates you need to remember: expiration date and period after opening (PAO). The expiration date tells you the shelf life of an unopened product, the PAO is the time period you can safely use the product after it has been opened.

Here are some PAO expiration guidelines:
Powders (blush, eye shadow, bronzer, finishing)  1-3 yrs
Nail polish  1 yr
Sun screen  1 yr
Lipstick, lip gloss   1 yr
Pencil (Eye, Lip)  1 yr
Crayon (eyeliner, eyebrow)  6-8 mos
Skin care products: jar  6-10 mos, pump 1 yr
Bronzing liquid   6 mos
Mascara  3-6 mos
Liquid eyeliner  3-4 mos
Foundation liquid 1 yr

Keep it clean. Buy makeup in air-tight containers instead of jars. Leave lipstick or a closed tube of mascara in the freezer overnight to kill bacteria and germs. Scrape off the top layer of pressed powders occasionally. Sharpen your eye and lip pencils to remove the bacteria on the outer layers and use diluted bleach to clean the sharpener. Use disposable applicators or wash your brushes every week.

Use common sense. If you see changes in color, texture or smell; throw it out.

Cosmetics are to enhance your natural beauty, by keeping your make-up new and clean, you can keep it that way.

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