Monday, November 29, 2010

Destroy a virus with Elderberry

Not many things will destroy a virus. If you go to the doctor, they really don't have anything to give you. It's up to your immune system to handle it. That's not good news for those with weakened immune systems.

But there is a wonderful, completely natural solution: Elderberry. The berries of the elder tree have been found to actually deactivate the spikes on viruses so they can no longer enter your cells and replicate. Studies have shown elderberry to neutralize and reduce the ability of influenza viruses to infect the body. Israeli researcher, Madeleine Mumcuoglu, Ph.D. found that the elderberries seem to be designed as a specific weapon against the flu virus. Viruses form tiny spikes that enable them to penetrate the wall of a healthy cell and set up shop inside it, replicating more viruses. The active ingredient in elderberry breaks down these spikes within 24-48 hours, so the virus cannot spread. Patients in the study who took the elderberry juice syrup reported a much faster termination of symptoms than those who didn't take it. 20% were better within 24 hours, 70% by 48 hours, and 90% were well by 3 days.

The ability of viruses to alter their genetics and create new strains makes it difficult for modern medicine to come up with vaccines or anything to effectively treat them. But this doesn't stop elderberry from keeps on inactivating those viruses no matter what kind they are.

And if that's not enough to get excited about, elderberry also reduces fevers, alleviates sore throats, tonsillitis, and respiratory illnesses, such as viral bronchitis. I gave a teaspoon of elderberry concentrate to my daughter, who had a fever of 101 at bedtime, and she slept great all night and woke up without the fever.

To summarize elderberry's benefits:
  • Anti-viral
  • Colds and Flu
  • Tonsillitis and Laryngitis
  • Bronchitis
  • Sore Throats
  • Fevers
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Immune support

Now that's a cool herb!! So, before you run right out to the health food store for some elderberry, you need to know the best kind to buy. Herbs vary tremendously in quality. Most of the cheaper supplements are cheap because the companies buy their herbs from the most inexpensive places possible. They buy herbs at pennies per pound from India, Mexico, China, and other countries. The quality is never checked, pesticides could be used, and when they are imported to the US, they are sterilized with chemicals, such as ethylene oxide. So, you could be getting toxic chemicals on your herbs. And usually, these herbs are old and have lost their potency in the drying and encapsulating process. Capsules of elderberry are just about worthless. The best form is a liquid concentrate of the elderberry juice. It is more potent, more available to the body, and even tastes good. Take 2-3 teaspoons three times a day for maximum effectiveness for an adult. You can take it all winter long for protection from the flu (along with your cod liver oil) as well as taking it when you get sick. This is one herb I don't want to be without!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Recipe: Butternut Squash with Apples and Cranberries

Just in time for Thanksgiving, here is a delicious recipe for a side dish using butternut squash.

Butternut Squash with Apples and Cranberries

1 Butternut Squash
3 small Granny Smith Apples
½ cup dried Cranberries
¼ cup unrefined sugar, such as Rapadura or Sucanat (or sweetener of choice)
½ tsp salt
2 Tbsp coconut oil or butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and oil the casserole dish.
Peel, seed and cut the squash and apples into cubes and place in casserole dish with cranberries.
Melt oil/butter and pour over top then sprinkle with sugar and salt
Toss or stir to coat.
Cover dish and bake 45 min. to 1 hour (until squash is tender)
Stir once half way through baking time.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 15, 2010

How to Get Rid of a Plantar's Wart

My very first introduction to herbalism began when I was about 10 years old. I had gone to summer camp and came back home with a planter's wart, thanks to those lovely communal showers. For those of you who do not know what a planter's wart is, it is a wart that grows on the bottom of the foot. They are caused by a virus that infects the superficial layer of skin producing a thick, callus-like growth that is very painful.

After someone at church had mentioned an herbal cure for planter's warts to my mother, she gave me the choice: Either I go to the doctor and have them dig it out of the bottom of my foot with a sharp metal object, or we apply an herbal paste to the wart. Gee, I wonder what sounded more appealing to a 10 year old. Of course, I chose the herbs.

Once we started looking around our backyard, we found this particular herb growing everywhere! My mom gathered some leaves and ground them up in a mortar and pestle. She put this moist herbal mash right over the wart and covered it with a bandage to keep out all the air. After sleeping all night with it on, she applied another fresh poultice the next night.

I think we were all amazed when she removed the second bandage and found that the wart just fell off of my foot!

This experience had a huge impact on me as a child. I believe it sowed the seeds for a love of herbs and natural medicine that would not come to fruition until I was an adult.

So, what was this herb? Common wood sorrel, or oxalis acetosella. It is a small, creeping perennial plant that looks similar to clover, but the leaves are shaped like hearts. It grows in shady areas mainly, but I have even seen it growing in my pasture in full sun.

It is good for warts, and is also good for getting rid of cysts under the skin.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Flu Shot or Not: The Dangers of Vaccinations

This is a very important issue. Most people blindly trust their doctors and do not think twice about rolling up their sleeves to get a shot. They think that getting a vaccine is as benign as taking a multivitamin. But when a serious adverse reaction occurs, such as Guillian-Barre paralysis, seizures, or autism, they come face to face with the reality of how dangerous a simple vaccine can be.

So, what is the truth about vaccines? Are they safe?

The main preservative in vaccines, thimerosal, contains 49.6% ethyl­mercury by volume. This form of mercury is highly neurotoxic. Mercury is the second most toxic metal known to man, second only to uranium. When nerve cells have been exposed to mercury in a petri dish, the nerve cells suffer severe damage. Before 1986, children received a total dose of ethylmercury of 100 micrograms in the first two years of life from 10 vaccines. By 1991, this dose was up to 246 micrograms: an increase of 246%!

There is enormous controversy over whether vaccinations have played a role in the explosion of autism and other neurological disor­ders in our country. Autism didn’t even exist prior to 1929, the year vaccines were developed. In the 1980’s, autism affected 1 in 10,000 children. Today, autism is affecting 1 in 150. That is an increase of 6000%!! I don’t know about you, but this is VERY alarming! The rate of autism has increased as the amount of vac­cines given to children has increased. When I was a child, children were only given 10 vaccines. Now they are given 36 by the time they are 5 years old!

Children are not the only ones affected by adverse reactions to vacci­nations. Last August, Desiree Jennings, a 25 year old Washington Redskins’ cheerleader, had an adverse reaction to the H1N1 flu shot. 10 days after receiving the flu shot, she came down with the flu and her health started spiraling downwards. She began having seizures and began to have difficulty walking and speaking. But fortunately, she found an alternative medical doctor that started detoxifying her body and she is regaining her health.

Last year, many people declined to take the H1N1 vaccine, due to concerns about adverse reactions. But what you may not know is that this year's flu shot contains the H1N1 virus and there is NOT a version without it. I didn't know this until I started researching the flu vaccine for this post. The media is not reporting this probably because they do not want to scare people into not taking the flu shot. This year's flu vaccine formulation that includes the H1N1 is the same formulation that was used in Australia earlier this year and was reported to cause an increase in convulsions in young children. Children were becoming so seriously ill that Australia banned the vaccine entirely! More recently, Finland has suspended use of the H1N1 vaccine in children due to reports of narcolepsy in some Finnish children given the vaccine. The H1N1vaccine has been linked to seizures and other neurological disorders and has resulted in some children becoming paralyzed. Please think twice before getting the flu shot this year!

I recently had an opportunity to help someone completely recover from a severe vaccine reaction. A healthy 40 year old sushi chef was given a routine tetanus shot when he cut his hand and had to get stitches at the hospital. Immediately after the shot, his shoulder became sore. Then he started getting muscle pain and constriction in his other arm, and it progressed to his lower back. His muscles started to seize up and constrict and walking started becoming diffi­cult. Over the next few weeks, he went from being healthy to being completely bedridden and in constant pain. He would get muscle spasms, convulsions, and eventually lost the ability to stand upright. He became unable to work, or even take care of himself. His doctors scoffed at the idea that his symptoms could be related to the tetanus vaccine and were unable to offer him anything besides muscle relax­ers and pain medication. There was nothing else the doctors could do, and despite medication they offered him, his situation grew bleak.

When I saw him for an assessment, I quickly realized that the vaccine was in­deed the problem, and I put him on a homeopathic remedy to detox­ify his body from the adverse effects of the vaccine. In less than a week, his pain lessened and he started to improve. Over just a few months, he slowly but steadily regained his health. The pain in his muscles and nerves gradually lessened and he was able to start walking again, first with a cane, then on his own a couple weeks later. A month later, he made his first trip out to a store, which he had been unable to do for the past several months. He continued to make steady gains and now he is pain free and able to go on a 30 mile bide ride! He is living proof of the power of alternative medicine and the answers it can offer even when the doctors have failed to help.

I believe the increase in adverse vaccine reactions is due to the in­creased body burden of toxins already in our bodies from over-vaccination, heavy metals, environmental pollution, pesticides, and chemicals that we are all exposed to in such high amounts.

Want more information on vaccine safety? See this video.

So, what can you do to avoid the flu without getting the vaccine? Here are my recommendations.

Good health begins with the food that you eat everyday. When your body is getting the nutrients that it needs, you will be much more resistant to illness. It is not the germs that we are exposed to that determines whether we get sick or not, but rather the condition of your health at the time of the exposure. Keeping your immune system strong and eating well are the keys to staying well. When you eat refined carbohydrates and sweets, you are setting the stage for illness. Sugar depresses the immune system and decreases the activity of infection-fighting white blood cells for up to 5 hours after you eat it.

With a good diet as the foundation, the most important supplement to avoid the flu is cod liver oil. Cod liver oil is rich in the fat-soluble vitamins A and D. Vitamin A helps to maintain resistance to infections. Vitamin D is normally produced in our body when we are exposed to the sun. But lowered sun exposure during the winter months can drastically reduce our vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is essential for proper calcium absorption and for the health of the immune system. Adults should get at least 2000 I.U. of vitamin D and 20,000-40,000 I.U. of vitamin A per day in the winter months. Higher amounts can be taken for a few days when you first start feeling flu-like symptoms and can be remarkably effective in restoring health. Vitamin D levels should be monitored by a physician if you take more than 2000 IU of vitamin D regularly as it can be toxic in very high doses.

XenoForce is a nutritional supplement that I have found very effective for cold and flu prevention in combination with cod liver oil. It contains immune-boosting nutrients that work synergistically to keep the body's defenses strong: Vitamin C, Zinc, Beta-Carotene, Echinacea, Ginger, Licorice Root, and Wild Cherry Bark. XenoForce can be taken on a regular basis to help keep the immune system strong as well as at the first sign of symptoms.

Another favorite herb I like to use is Olive Leaf. Olive leaf extract is a powerful anti-microbial herb that is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fingal. It is also beneficial for sore throats and helps reduce fevers. Used at the first sign of a sore throat or illness, I have seen it stop sickness in it's tracks many times. A high quality tincture, such as Energetix Core Olive Leaf is recommended for maximum effectiveness.

These supplements can be easily ordered on my webstore on my website:

Natural remedies work best when they are taken at the very first sign of illness. If you wait until sickness becomes well established, it takes more time to bring the body back into balance. At the first sign of illness, I suggest greatly increasing your cod liver oil and taking XenoForce (1-2 capsules for children, and 4-6 capsules for adults). Eat only nutritious and easy-to-digest foods like homemade soup with stock, green vegetable juices, and raw foods. Avoid starchy foods, such as breads and pasta, sweets of any type, and dairy products, until you are well. Last fall, I started to get flu-like symptoms (fever, aches, and chills) and immediately took 2 tablespoons of cod liver oil and some olive leaf tincture. I took another tablespoon a couple hours later and within just a few hours, I was completely well!

Remember that YOU are the one in control of your health. You deserve to have all the facts before making decisions about any vaccine. Before you take ANY shot, ask your doctor to give you the package insert from the vaccine and discuss any possible adverse reactions with you.

Please pass on this important information, so that those you care about can be informed and educated on this issue.

Why You Should Eat Soup!

There's just something supremely comforting about a big bowl of hot soup on a cold day. All the wonderful aromas that fill the house as it is simmering on the back of the stove make preparing soup from scratch worth the effort. Soup is really not that much effort. It is one of the easiest meals to prepare. What I like about it is that it is extremely adaptable to whatever ingredients you have on hand, it can be very economical, and it can easily frozen for future meals.

"Good broth will resurrect the dead." ~South American proverb

Soup seems like such a humble, simple food but it actually has significant health benefits. The key ingredient for these health benefits come from stock. Stock is made by simmering bones and meat in water, along with various other ingredients. Due to modern meat processing techniques that offer boneless chicken breasts and individual fillets of fish, there has been a decline in using bones to make stock. Many people use canned broths or bouillion cubes, which are high in sodium and MSG (monosodium glutamate), a flavor-enhancing chemical that is toxic to the body. Studies have shown that MSG is a neurotoxin that can cause a wide range of reactions, from headaches to permanent brain damage.

Meat and fish stocks are used almost universally in other traditional cuisines, but have almost completely disappeared from the American kitchen. This is a shame because as every chef knows, it is stock that makes soup taste so good. Rich stocks and broths form the base of delicious soups and sauces. Most chefs use stock as their magic ingredient in making wonderful tasting dishes.

When stock is homemade, it is extremely nutritious because it contains the minerals from the bone and cartilage in a form that is easy to assimilate. But the most important health benefits come from the gelatin the stock contains. Gelatin is very unique because it supplies hydrophilic, or water-loving, colloids to the diet. These water-loving colloids attract liquids. This means that they attract digestive juices for rapid and efficient digestion. Raw foods, or foods that are unheated, also contain hydrophilic colloids, which makes them easy to digest. When foods are heated in cooking, they become hydrophobic, or water-repelling. This means that cooked foods repel digestive juices. This is why cooked foods can be harder to digest. However, because gelatin attracts liquids even after it has been cooked, it aids in digestion by attracting digestive juices to the surface of cooked foods, making them digest easily. That is why gelatin-rich soups are so soothing to the digestive system and are so nourishing. That is another reason why your grandmother was right when she told you to eat her homemade chicken soup when you got sick. Just a small amount of gelatin-rich stock added to your cooked meals, whether as a soup, sauce, or used to cook grains, will help facilitate easy and efficient digestion.

Gelatin-rich stocks have been used therapeutically in the treatment of digestive and intestinal disorders, such as hyper-acidity, indigestion, colitis, and Crohn's disease. Gelatin has been used for anemia, ulcers, diabetes, muscular dystrophy, and even cancer. Modern research has confirmed that stock helps prevent infectious diseases. The soluble components of cartilage and collagen in stock are beneficial to those with rheumatoid arthritis and other joint problems. Rather than buying expensive glucosamine or chondroitin for our joints, it would be better to eat soups make with stock regularly and get the mineral and cartilage elements we need from our diet.

I recently had a client who had gone through gallbladder surgery a few weeks prior to seeing me. Due to the side effects of modern medicine, she could not keep down any food or water without vomiting. The doctors didn't know what else to do for her situation at this point, and she was getting desperate! On the verge of dehydration, I recommended a strict diet of only chicken broth along with some supplements. Starting with only a sip at a time, she sipped the broth and her body was able to keep this liquid down when nothing else worked. She was able to gradually drink more stock and finally eat soup as the broth rapidly restored her health. If it wasn't for this therapeutic use of the chicken stock, she could have gotten dangerously dehydrated and malnourished.

For much more technical information on the health benefits of stock, see the article, Traditional Bone Broth in Modern Health and Disease from the Feb/March 2005 Townsend Letter.

A wise cook will use gelatin-rich stock on a frequent basis to provide protection from many health problems. While stock is usually used to make soups, it can also be used in sauces or used instead of water to cook grains or beans.

"Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine your food." ~Hippocrates

~How to make Chicken Stock~

I like to slow roast a chicken in a crock-pot or in a covered pot in a 225 degree oven for 8-10 hours with lots of garlic, half a lemon, and a handful of parsley inside the cavity. Our family will enjoy the meat for a few meals and then I will use the carcass to make the stock. You can also use raw chicken to make stock.

  • 6-8 lbs. chicken parts (bones and some meat attached)
  • 2 medium onions, halved
  • 3 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped (optional)
  • 1 leek, cut into large pieces and rinsed well (optional)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. dried thyme leaves
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 8-10 peppercorns (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

Place all ingredients in a large pot or stockpot and add enough cold filtered water to cover everything in the pot by about 1-2 inches. Place it over medium high heat and bring just to a boil, then reduce heat to a slow simmer, skimming off any foamy scum that appears on top of the broth with a slotted spoon or strainer. Let the broth simmer for 4-12 hours.

Remove from heat and strain the stock. Let cool a bit and pour into storage containers. If stored in the refrigerator, it will keep 4-5 days. It can then be stored another 4-5 days if it is brought to a boil for 10 minutes and then refrigerated. After it has chilled, the fat will congeal on the top of the stock. This should be scooped off and discarded before using the stock. Properly made stock should congeal like Jello after it has chilled.

Stock can also be frozen. Put it into containers but leave plenty of room at the top of the container because the stock expands as it freezes. Label and date the containers and freeze. When frozen, it will keep for many months.

Note: This basic recipe can also be used to make turkey, beef, venison, or fish stock.

Here are some of my favorite cookbooks on soups:

What is your favorite soup recipe or soup cookbook? Please feel free to comment below.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Eating Well on a Budget

Going through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace this fall has been good for me in many ways. I am not the one in the household that takes care of the finances, so I always can use more advice in this area. As my husband and I sat down to do our household's budget, what struck me the most was the percentage of our income spent on food. It was a little bit higher than Dave's recommended 5-15%. It did not surprise me at all, since food is an area that I will spend as much as I need to keep us healthy. Actually, I have to admit that I had not even been keeping track of how much I spent on food. But seeing those numbers on paper definitely got me thinking. I started wondering about the percentage that was allocated for food expenses. I began researching the percentages for other countries and found that Americans spend only a fraction of our disposable income on food. WOW, a fraction is right! They spend about 9%! Thirty years ago, it was 15%.

Let's compare that with other countries around the world and you will see there is a pretty big disparity between them. German consumers spend 10.9 percent of their disposable income on food at home, followed by Japan (13.4 percent), South Korea (13.4 percent), and France (13.6 percent) among high income countries.

Middle income countries include South Africa (17.5 percent) and Mexico (21.7 percent). China (28.3 percent) and Russia (36.7 percent) are seeing rapid decreases in food expenditure percentages but are still relatively high. India (39.4 percent) and Indonesia (49.9 percent) are among the highest when it comes to the amount of disposable income spent on food.

This suggests that there are many Americans who could afford to spend more on food if they chose to. It all comes down to priorities. For me, staying in good health, not paying for medical expenses, not missing any days of work, and therefore being more productive are things that you just can't put a price tag on. I would rather cut back on other areas of the budget before cutting back on food.

But I do realize that good food can sometimes cost a bit more than some typical American fare. So, for the next few months, I am going to see if I can save more money on our grocery bills, while still keeping good quality food on the table.

Organic does not have to cost much more than conventional produce, if you know where to shop. Rather than buying organic food at Kroger or Publix, there are places like Trader Joe's and local farmer's markets that can definitely be worth the trip. There is a great place in Atlanta called the Dekalb Farmer's Market that carries a wide selection of organic food at unbelievably good prices. I went there just last weekend and bought a cart full of food and only spent $140. If I had gone to Publix or Whole Foods, I would have easily paid twice as much or even more!

Another way to save money on food is to buy in bulk. Every few years, I stock up on food that stores well, such as lentils, quinoa, beans, and other grains. I will buy them in 25 -50 lb. bags or containers and store them in my pantry. If stored properly, these foods will keep for several years. I store my grains in hard plastic buckets that I got for free from grocery store bakeries. I have lots of food in my pantry that will sustain our family quite well for a very long time if I need it to. Tonight, I made a big pot of lentil soup with the French green lentils I had stored away. After dinner, I'm planning on freezing it in small containers for "fast food" for nights I don't want to cook.

Growing your own produce is one of the best ways to save money. If you have time to devote to gardening, I encourage you to do it. Even if you only have a small backyard, you can still produce quite a bit of food. Square Food Gardening is one of the first gardening books I used to grow a garden when we lived in a subdivision with a tiny backyard. It was amazing what we could grow in a 6 x 8 foot plot of land! You can even grow your own sprouts if you don't have land or a green thumb. I will be growing some sunflower sprouts this winter to add to my salads. Several years ago, I volunteered to work for a local organic farm one afternoon a week in exchange for several bags of fresh produce. If you think outside the box, there are many ways to get high quality food without breaking the budget.

Here is a nice blog that I found that will even give you recipe ideas for inexpensive, healthy meals: Poor Girl Eats Well. Check it out and it will give you even more ideas!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Lyme Disease: Your health can deteriorate with a tick bite

Once only found in Lyme, Connecticut, Lyme disease is now found in every state. It is transmitted by a very tiny tick, called a deer tick. Here on our property, we have only seen the larger ticks that typically are found on dogs. But not this year. For the first time, we have seen the tiny deer ticks, and our daughter has gotten bitten 8 times from playing in a wooded area right behind our house. Deer ticks are tiny and black, about the size of a sesame seed. They are so small, that when they get on your skin, they are about the size of a mole or freckle. But if you look very closely, you will see that what you thought was a mole actually has legs!

I am not an alarmist by nature, so most of my health information tends to focus on the postitive. However, when it comes to Lyme disease and what it can eventually do to your health, I believe everyone needs to be informed and take precautions. After my daughter was bitten, she had some unusual symptoms develop that we believe could be early stage lyme disease. We saw an engorged tick fall off of her head and soon after, she developed a swollen, tender area on her head, fatigue, and a vibrating sensation in her muscles. Medical testing can give false negatives, so we are treating her as if she has lyme and her symptoms have abated. But if lyme is not caught early enough, it can cause long term damage to the body, turning a healthy active person into one with debilitating arthritis, neurological problems, severe pain, etc...

Lyme disease is the most common, vector-borne infectious disease in America with more than 200,000 new cases developing every year.
Lyme disease has been reported in all 50 states and 25% of those infected are children. The number of cases reported to the CDC is estimated to be under reported by as many as six to 12 times, illustrating the vast number of people affected by this debilitating disease. This rising epidemic is reported to be larger than AIDS, West Nile Virus and the Avian Flu combined!

Lyme disease may be one of the most challenging diseases of our time in that it is difficult to prevent, diagnose and treat. The tests most doctors rely on miss 44 of every 100 patients- not much better than a coin toss. The average patient sees 5 doctors over nearly 2 years before being diagnosed, and 40% end up with long-term health problems. Medical treatment is often delayed, many times resulting in chronic infection, which leads to the loss of livelihoods- friends, jobs and sometimes lives.

The 3 Stages of Lyme Disease:


Tiredness, chills, fever, headache, muscle and/or joint pains, "summer flu", 30-50% may have the EM/ Bullseye rash. Usually easily treatable with antibiotics at this point.

Occurs days to weeks following infection. At this stage the spirochetes spread hematogenously to additional body tissues. The infection is more entrenched and harder to treat.
If Lyme disease is not promptly or effectively treated, damage to the joints, nerves, and brain may develop months or years after you become infected. At this stage, the disease may require long-term, open-ended antibiotic therapy for months or years.

    • Most people do not realize they have been bitten
    • Less than half develop the "Bullseye" rash
    • Most doctors don't realize how endemic the disease actually is
    • The symptoms of Lyme are similar to other diseases
    • Doctors are not familiar with the many different symptoms Lyme can cause
    • Many follow the CDC criteria, though it is not meant for diagnostic purposes.
    • Symptoms can develop months/years later, seeming unrelated to the bite


    Alzheimer’s Disease
    Attention Deficit Disorder
    Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
    Systemic Lupus

    Guillain-Barre Syndrome
    Infectious Mononucleosis
    Lou Gherig’s Disease (ALS)
    Multiple Sclerosis
    Parkinson’s Disease

    More and more people affected by this disease are turning to alternative-oriented doctors, lyme literate M.D.'s, and naturopaths because it is so difficult to diagnose and treat effectively.

    For more information on Lyme Disease, see

    Thursday, August 5, 2010

    Going Gluten Free

    [This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts,
    the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Summer 2006. ]

    I had always considered myself to be healthy. But I had no idea that one of the cornerstones of my diet, wheat and other gluten-containing grains (rye, oats and barley), was causing me so many problems until I eliminated them for a month. After my four-week, gluten-free trial, I decided to try some wheat just to see what would happen. Within a few hours, all of my familiar symptoms returned that had quietly disappeared over the past few weeks: fatigue, digestive problems, constipation, canker sores, acne, mood swings, and irritability. I had not realized how mediocre my level of health really was until I felt the difference! Life without wheat became very desirable to me because I felt so much better without it, although my cravings for it were still strong. Finding tasty alternatives was the key for making an easy transition.

    Increasing numbers of people are finding that they are allergic or intolerant to grains that contain gluten: wheat, rye, barley and oats. James Braly and Ron Hoggan, the authors of Dangerous Grains, estimate the incidence of gluten sensitivity to be around 30 percent of the population, but some researchers think it may be much higher. While some people may find that properly prepared, long fermented sourdough bread may not be problematic, others cannot handle any grains. This is not an issue to be taken lightly, since gluten can damage the lining of the small intestine causing malabsorption of nutrients, which can lead to serious disease.

    Here are some of my favorite gluten-free recipes. (The recipes for crispy nuts can be found in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.)

    Rosemary Crackers

    From Recipes for Life by Becky Mauldin.

    Makes 16-20

    2 cups walnuts, soaked in salted water overnight
    1/2 cup sunflower seeds, soaked with the walnuts
    1 clove garlic
    3 green onions, chopped
    1 tablespoon fresh minced rosemary
    2 teaspoons raw red wine vinegar
    1 tablespoon honey
    1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
    1/2 cup ground flaxseed

    Drain nuts and seeds in a colander. Place in a food processor along with the rest of the ingredients, except for the flaxseeds. Process to form a coarse paste. Pulse food processor to mix in the flaxseeds. Spread mixture onto non-stick dehydrator sheets as thin as possible with a rubber spatula or your hands. Score into cracker shapes with a knife. Dehydrate at 100 degrees for 12-24 hours, remove nonstick sheet and dry until completely dry.

    Onion Bread

    From Recipes for Life by Becky Mauldin.

    Makes 8-10 slices

    1 1/2 cups onion
    2 cups golden flax seed, ground
    1 cup crispy almonds, ground
    2 tablespoon olive oil
    1 teaspoon sea salt
    pinch of pepper

    Process all ingredients in a food processor until well mixed. Form dough into a loaf on a cutting board. Cut into 1/2 inch thick slices. Place on mesh dehydrator sheets and dry until the outside is dry, but the inside is still soft, about 8-12 hours.

    Gluten-Free Granola

    Adapted from Raw Food, Real World by Matthew Kenney and Sarma MeIngailis.

    Makes 10 cups

    1 apple, chopped
    1-1 1/2 cups dried fruit, such as dates, figs and apricots
    1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    2 teaspoons sea salt
    1/2 cup sunflower seeds, soaked overnight
    2 cups almonds, soaked overnight
    3 cups pecans, soaked overnight
    1 cup pumpkin seeds, soaked overnight
    1 cup dried cranberries

    In a food processor, place the chopped apple, dried fruit, sweetener, lemon juice, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and 1/4 cup of the sunflower seeds and grind until completely smooth. Transfer mixture to a large bowl.

    Drain the nuts and seeds and place in the food processor. Coarsely chop the nuts with a few quick pulses. Add them to the bowl with the apple mixture, add the cranberries and stir well. Spread the granola onto Teflex-lined dehydrator sheets and dehydrate at 100 degrees for 8-12 hours. Flip the granola over onto the screens and peel away the Teflex. Continue dehydrating for another 8-12 hours, or until it is crunchy. Break apart into pieces, let cool, and store in an airtight container.

    Gluten-Free Pancakes

    Adapted from The No-Grain Diet by Joseph Mercola and Alison Rose Levy.

    Makes 6-8

    2 cups ground crispy almonds
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 cup cream or coconut cream
    1 tablespoon honey
    2 eggs, beaten
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    pinch of cinnamon
    blueberries for mixing into batter

    Combine all ingredients, stir in blueberries and cook on a hot cast iron griddle.

    Rice Muffins

    Recipe by Theresa Brown.

    Makes 12-14

    1 1/2 cups rice flour
    about 3/4 cup warm water
    2 tablespoons whey
    1/4 cup coconut oil
    1/4 cup honey
    2 eggs
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder

    Zucchini Muffins

    1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
    1/4 teaspoon dried ginger

    Carrot Muffins

    1 1/2 cups finely grated carrots
    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

    Fruit Muffins

    1-1 1/2 cups blueberries, blackberries
    or raspberries

    Mix the first three ingredients and soak overnight. After soaking mix oil and honey thoroughly in a separate container. Add eggs, then salt, soda, powder, and any spices. Combine flour mix and egg mix with fruit or vegetable. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes,or until a toothpick comes out clean.


    Grain-Free Casein-Free yahoo discussion group that is focused on healing the gut with a modified WAPF diet:

    Celiac Disease Association:

    Celiac Sprue Association:

    Specific Carbohydrate Diet:

    DietNet by Deb Gully (great information and recipes): and

    For more gluten free recipes, see my newest cookbook, Recipes for Vibrant Health, which will be available on my website very soon!

    Wednesday, June 30, 2010

    Food Obsessions

    Do you look down on others who don't eat your way? Does your diet make it difficult for you to eat anywhere but at home, distancing you from family and friends? Does your diet socially isolate you? Do you feel guilt or self-loathing when you stray from your diet? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, your good intentions for being healthy may be going a little to the extreme and leading to an unhealthy lifestyle. Orthorexia nervosa, is a new term coined for a condition that indicates an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy food. The term is derived from the Greek “ortho,” which means “right,” or “correct.” (This is from:

    This may sound like an oxymoron. How can focusing on healthy food be bad for you? The apparent contradiction has led to a great deal of challenge of the concept.

    But the emphasis is intended to be on “unhealthy obsession.” One can have an unhealthy obsession with something that is otherwise healthy. Think of exercise addition, or workaholism. People suffering from this obsession may display the following signs.

    • Spending more than three hours a day thinking about healthy food
    • Planning tomorrow's menu today
    • Feeling virtuous about what they eat, but not enjoying it much
    • Continually limiting the number of foods they eat
    • Experiencing a reduced quality of life or social isolation (because their diet makes it difficult for them to eat anywhere but at home)
    • Feeling critical of others who do not eat as well they do
    • Skipping foods they once enjoyed in order to eat the "right" foods
    • Feeling guilt or self-loathing when they stray from their diet
    • Feeling in "total" control when they eat the correct diet
    It's normal to change what you eat to improve your health, treat an illness or lose weight. Usually, people focus less on what they eat once they're used to their new eating habits. However, people with orthorexia nervosa remained consumed with what types of food they allow themselves to eat, and feel badly about themselves if they fail to stick to their diet.

    There are times where it is appropriate to put alot more time and effort into your diet:
    • For a short period, while one is transitioning to a new diet. After the new diet becomes habit, your attention to dietary details can/should be reduced.

    • Those who are are following a certain diet as part of a program for healing from serious illness may need to strictly follow the diet for an extended period. However, per the above, once the diet becomes habit, then attention to the details can be reduced. Also, once a person's health improves sufficiently, one may be able to be a bit less strict regarding the details of diet.
    Many years ago, when I was new to eating healthier food, I was very perfectionistic, judgemental, and needed to be "in control" in many areas of my life. It translated into my new dietary views, and in my concern for the health of my family and friends, I put pressure on them to change their diet too. But this pressure only made them get defensive or withdraw from me. I started to realize that nothing good was coming from this approach. I realized that the motivation for someone to change MUST come from them if it to be lasting change. I began to take responsibility for myself and myself alone, giving others the grace to make their own choices. I began to see that if I truly cared about their wellbeing and our relationship, I would love and accept them where they are and not put pressure on them to change. Believe it or not, this approach led to better relationships and allowed them to begin to notice the health benefits I was getting. They became more open to my food choices over time. As my relationships improved, I realized that when all is said and done, the relationships with those I cared about were as important to me as the food I was eating. And I wasn't going to let something like food bring division with those I cared about. The most healthy meal eaten with hostility is counterproductive to health. Meals are meant to be shared with love and fellowship because those relationships are just as important to your health and wellbeing as the food you prepare.

    Health is not just about food. That is a large part of it, but a healthy way of living involves your emotional health, your mental outlook, your stress level, your daily habits, your sleep patterns, your exercise routine, and your connection with others. A good diet cannot make up for unhealthy lifestyle issues, such as marital strife, lack of sleep, strong negative emotions, relationship conflict, etc... They can undermine even the best efforts to attain good health.

    True health is holistic. Holistic health is a concept that upholds ALL aspects of people's needs: psychological, physical and social, and these should be taken into account and seen as a whole. Holistic health focuses on all facets of human functioning, which involves our taking responsibility for maintaining all aspects of our well-being. What good is your "organic" diet if you are healthy and live a long time, but have no close relationships?? An individual is a whole made up of interdependent parts, which are the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. When one part is not working at its best, it impacts all of the other parts of that person. Maintain a healthy balance in all areas of your life, and you will have mastered what it means to be truly healthy.
    Mind Matters

    Your mental and emotional outlook are just as important to your health as the food you eat. Your brain does not know the difference between what it see's in it's environment and what it remembers. Your body does not know the difference between what you see and what you imagine. Scientists have studied the brain patterns of runners training for marathons. They hooked them up to electrodes that measured their brain waves and told them to imagine running the race they were training for. As they ran the race in their minds, their brain and body responded just as if they were running it for real.

    Strong negative emotions, such as fear, anger, worry, bitterness, resentment, etc... produce hormones that are released into your body every time you have those thoughts. The hypothalamus is a gland in the center of your head that is like a mini factory. It assembles certain biological chemicals called peptides. They are small chain amino acid sequences that turn into hormones and match the emotional states we experience on a daily basis. So, there are ones for anger, certain ones for sadness, certain ones for fear, etc.. The moment we experience that emotional state, the hypothalamus will immediately release that peptide from the pituitary into the bloodstream. Those peptides go to certain areas of the body where they attach to cell receptor sites and send a certain signal to the cell.

    Those negative feelings cause stress in your body as your muscles constrict,your heart rate quickens, your stomach tightens up, and your sympathetic nervous system goes into overdrive. You are changing your body chemistry with your emotions.

    These thoughts and feelings, if they happen everyday, set up a condition in the body where it is getting a continual supply of these negative emotional chemicals and it can lead to elevated cortisol levels, high blood pressure, poor digestion, thyroid problems, poor sleep, liver stress, and many other health problems. Long-term emotional stress causes physical stress in the body. Let me say that again: Long-term emotional stress causes physical stress in the body. Hans Selye, an endocrinologist, studied what happens to the human body during periods of prolonged emotional stress. First the body goes into a state of mobilization, that he called the alarm phase. This is also know as the "fight or flight" response. The body prepares you to fight of flee as the heart startes beating rapidly, the body starts to sweat, and we feel a surge of adrenaline. This is a built in response to protect us from danger.

    But if the stress continues, we enter a second phase called resistance. At this point the body gets additional assistance to be able to continue to handle the stress temporarily. More stress hormones such as cortisol are secreted by the adrenal glands. But when these hormones are released over too long of a period of time, negative physical effects result. Immune response is lowered, digestion is affected, blood pressure rises, and insulin levels are adversely affected. If the body continues in this state for an extended period of time, the stress can lead to the third and final phase: exhaustion. At this point the body's resources have finally become depleted by the constant stress. A weakened immune system increases vulnerability to disease. The body can seriously break down at this point.

    One study at the University of California at Riverside found that being chronically anxious, pessimistic, depressed, or irritated actually doubled one's chances of developing a major disease.

    What you believe or think about can determine how you feel, and can influence how you will act. But most of us think our thoughts and feelings are on autopilot, that we can't affect the way we feel. It is our feelings and emotions that tell us what is going on inside of us. Everyone goes through certain negative experiences in their life. We all have been hurt or betrayed. We also have to realize that it is our perception of a circumstance that is the major factor in whether or not we experience it negatively. Our perceptions are very powerful and can change a negative stressor into a positive one. Instead of allowing your unhappiness or unfulfillment to create obsessive thoughts about how bad things are, we can use that energy as the catalyst to think about how to make a change. Continually thinking about how bad things are keeps you trapped in a cycle that is unhealthy. As your mind and thoughts dwell on the negative, you are feeding your body those chemical messages that affect your physical body chemistry, which in turn affects your overall outlook, keeping you in a perpetuating cycle, leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Unhealthy thought patterns and negative emotions that we are having are broken when we realize our current viewpoint is not working for us and we become open and teachable to the possibility of another viewpoint. If you don't like the results you have gotten form the choices you have made in the past, then get curious about what your life could be like if you made different choices. The choices you made yesterday do not have to have an effect on the choices you make today.

    As you start to make new choices, give yourself the grace to learn and grow. In a stressful moment you may choose an unhealthy food to eat. That single choice is not going to ruin your health. Don't punish yourself for it, or feel guilt or shame. Recognize the reasons why you chose that food, learn from it, and understand that the choice doesn't have to determine your future choices. Use that choice as an opportunity for growth. THAT is a truly healthy mindset.


    Refreshing Ginger Lemonade

    • 8 carrots
    • 2 lemons
    • 2 by 1 inch piece of fresh ginger root
    • 1/4 pineapple, optional
    • stevia or agave to sweeten to taste
    Juice all of the produce and add 6 cups of filtered water to make 1/2 gallon. Sweeten to taste and chill.

    This drink is more thirst-quenching than water and has electrolytes to keep you hydrated during these hot summer days. It also provides a natural energy boost.