Health

Everyday Herbs: Recipes and Remedies

Posted by on Aug 4, 2015 in Frugal For Everyone, Gardening, Green Living, Health, Herbs, Recipes | 49 comments

Everyday Herbs: Recipes and Remedies

This is the time of year when herbs really come into their own and I consider myself fortunate to be able to harvest them straight from my garden. But it’s not necessary to have a backyard garden to benefit from the bounty. Right now you’ll find a great selection of the freshest herbs at the best prices at Farmers’ Markets, Roadside Stands and even Supermarkets. Herbs are the most useful plants. For the longest time we thought using herbs was to add a basil leaf to tomato soup or to sprinkle chives on a baked potato. We have now become much more aware and accepting of herbs contribution to healthy living. Many of the herbs we use everyday have multiple uses – culinary, cosmetic, and medicinal. In this post I’m sharing just a few of the many ways to use Basil, Chives, Dill and Parsley. If you have no allergic reaction when using herbs in cooking or drinking, you should be fine using them for FIRST AID or cosmetic purposes. Unless you are trained to do so, NEVER use herbs to replace medical diagnosis or treatment. FOUR EVERYDAY HERBS. BASIL. This is one of the herbs that everyone knows and loves. It’s a pretty plant that grows equally well in the flower bed, the window box, the vegetable/herb garden or indoors during the winter. It’s also a must have plant for the pollinator garden. It is one of the most versatile plants with many uses – culinary, beverage, medicinal, cosmetic and even as insect repellant. Culinary Uses: Try basil with beans; pasta; chicken; fish; meatloaf; Italian cooking of all kinds; anything with tomato; and of course, to make pesto or boursin. More Uses: I wrote an earlier post about basil and rather than repeat the information, I’m simply adding the link: http://frugalforeveryone.ca/culinary-cosmetic-antiseptic-and-more-basil-does-it-all/ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ CHIVES. We grow garlic chives that have the pretty purple flower balls like little lollipops that the bees go crazy about. They are extremely easy to grow, indoors or out, and act as an aphid repellant (unfortunately not as eliminator) for our roses. Chives are used for culinary and medicinal purposes. Culinary Uses: Chives are great added to butters, cheese dishes, dips, eggs/omelets, potatoes, salads, sauces, seafood, soups and vegetables. We enjoy the mild taste so much that we have completely replaced green onions with chives. Medicinal Uses: Chives are loaded with vitamins and minerals including iron, calcium, Vitamin A and C and a host of other nutrients. Because of the high Vitamin C content, chives give chicken soup an extra boost when dealing with a cold. Added to a broth, soup or stew they are used to ease digestive problems; treat anemia; and as food for sick or convalescing patients. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ DILL:  There was a time when we made gallons of pickles and relishes and used lots of dill. We don’t bother with that anymore and also no longer bother growing dill. (The dill shown above is store bought.) But I still know enough about using it to share. Dill is used most often for culinary purposes but it has some excellent medicinal qualities. It contains many important nutrients, vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A and C plus iron and calcium. Culinary Uses: Eggs, poultry, salads, potato salad, and as a sauce (recipe below) for fish, especially salmon. Dill Sauce: 1 cup yogurt 1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated 1/3 cup fresh dill, chopped 1 Tbsp. chives, chopped 1 Tbsp. lemon juice Dash of Worcestershire sauce Directions: Blend all the ingredients together. Serve with fish, delightful over salmon. Medicinal Uses: Dill is a centuries old herb...

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Enjoy a Powerhouse Smoothie

Posted by on Jul 12, 2015 in Frugal For Everyone, Health, Recipes | 34 comments

Enjoy a Powerhouse Smoothie

Enjoy a Powerhouse Smoothie was originally written by Erica Mesirov. As part of my 31 day #ProBlogger blogging challenge I needed to link to another blog post. For that I had the pleasure to choose one of Erica’s. The reason I chose this post is that it fit in well with my blog plus I found her directions for transforming a regular smoothie into a  powerhouse smoothie just too good not to share. Erica is a food and weight loss coach and she blogs about following a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle. I’ve been following her blog for quite a while now and enjoy her posts tremendously. They are always full of good, practical advice as this post will demonstrate. I’ll now let Erica’s post speak for itself. Amazing Add-Ins to Transform Your Smoothie Into a Nutrient Filled Powerhouse (By Erica Mesirov) We think of smoothies as a healthy breakfast or a protein rich snack. Yet your smoothie is only as healthy as what you put in it. Here are six things you need to be doing to assure that your smoothie is a lean, mean nutrient rich, nutrient filled powerhouse. Freshly grind your seeds – Throwing in flax seeds, chia seeds or pumpkins seeds can be a good way to supply your body with additional omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and protein. It is popular to purchase packaged ground seeds for use in such things as smoothies. The problem is that once seeds are ground, the oils are easily oxidized which diminishes their nutrient value. Freshly grinding seeds keeps the oils fresh. You can grind them in a small coffee grinder or in a power blender. Just make sure the seeds are fully ground into a powder or you won’t be able to absorb their nutrients. Avoid Using Fruit Juice – Fruit juice seems like it should be a source of vitamins and minerals for your smoothie. In reality, fruit juice is made by isolating the sugar from the fruit while leaving out any of the fiber and vitamins that make fruit nutritious. The sweetness from fruit juice is enough to upset your blood sugar balance and lead to sugar cravings later in the day. Stick to some form of milk as your base and leave the sweetness to your fresh fruit. Check for hidden sugars – While we are talking about the sweet stuff, many smoothie ingredients are full of added sugars. This might be in your non-dairy milk, your protein powder or any add-ins like peanut butter. Read all ingredients carefully before using. Nothing detracts from a smoothie’s health potential than lots of sugar. There are plenty of unsweetened or naturally sweet options, so pick those instead. Add Greens – Hate kale? Cool, throw it in anyway. If you do a smoothie right, you will have such a mix of flavors that you won’t even taste the veggies. This is perfect for a little kid (or big adult) who won’t eat their vegetables. One handful of greens is usually just perfect. Choose Antioxidants – Think beyond just the banana when choosing fruit for your smoothie. Berries like blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are not only really satisfying in smoothies; they are a great source of antioxidants. Some of the many benefits of antioxidants are better skin, improved immunity and increased overall health. Go ahead and use frozen. Once they are blended your smoothie will by cold and refreshing. Support Healthy Gut Bacteria – So many people have taken multiple courses of antibiotics or years of birth control pills (which both help destroy the much needed healthy bacteria in the gut.) For that...

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Lavender: Health Benefits and Uses

Posted by on May 3, 2015 in Gardening, Health, Herbs, Lavender | 36 comments

Lavender: Health Benefits and Uses

Lavender is my very favourite herb, which probably doesn’t surprise anyone who’s been following my blog for a while. I’ve used it in all kinds of ways, from sachets tucked inside my pillow case, to lavender vinegar for a hair rinse, to a soothing lavender-oatmeal bath (how-to at the bottom of this post), and more. When I found out about the pollinators declining, I decided to enlarge my lavender garden to attract more bees and butterflies. But is seems that my decisions never fly solo – each one leads to another one. In this case, the decision to learn more about lavender’s many health benefits. It was believed in ancient times that adding lavender to baths added not only a pleasant scent, but also purified the body and spirit. We now know that lavender, when inhaled, produces a calming, sedative effect, which makes it easy to understand why the ancients held those beliefs. Note: Where it refers to lavender essential oil, it means pure essential oil, not the synthetic stuff found in pharmacies and other retail outlets. That oil doesn’t have any healing properties. Lavender oil is very strong and incorrect use can damage the skin. For home use it is recommended that lavender oil be mixed with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, to alleviate risk. Start small – 2 drops of lavender oil to 1/2 tsp. coconut oil. Where below it states lavender oil, before applying it to skin remember to mix it with the carrier oil. Lavender and aromatherapy: The reason lavender promotes relaxation is because it slows the activity of the nervous system.  The more relaxed we are, the better we feel and the more able to fight off headaches, depression, nervous disorders and exhaustion. The right amount of sleep is needed to maintain good physical and mental health. Lavender can often help achieve the relaxation necessary for a good night’s sleep. In one sleep study of the elderly, it was found that putting a few drops of lavender essential oil on their pillows often increased sleep regularity without the need for stronger sleep aids. Placing a lavender sachet inside the pillow case works as well. Lavender and the digestive system: Lavender (a member of the mint family) is of great benefit to the digestive system. Lavender tea can relieve indigestion, nausea, flatulence, vomiting, and diarrhea. It can also improve the appetite. To make the tea: Pour one cup of freshly boiled water over a tablespoon of dried lavender flowers. Cover and let steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain and drink. Do not use the essential oil. It is toxic if taken internally. Lavender and skin ailments: Holistic doctors treat skin ailments such as acne, fungal infections, wounds and eczema with lavender essential oil. To do so at home, use the lavender oil mixed with the coconut oil. Lavender and pain: Acupuncturists and chiropractors often use lavender oil when treating patients – a massage with essential oil has been proven to reduce joint pain. (A warm lavender/oatmeal bath can also help – directions below.) Lavender is currently being studied for its antibacterial and antiviral properties. It is already known that the  essential oil can be used as an effective natural antiseptic to treat minor cuts and scrapes. Never pour essential oil on an open wound. Lavender and circulation: Lavender improves blood circulation which of course has many positive benefits. including: Decreased risk of heart attack and atherosclerosis; Important in diabetes management; Fewer leg cramps. Lavender and other benefits: Massage with essential oil can improve concentration, learning, reduce anxiety and level out mood disturbances....

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GMO – Pros and Cons

Posted by on Apr 5, 2015 in Frugal For Everyone, Health, Product Information | 57 comments

GMO – Pros and Cons

Right on the heels of my post on sodium, I found a leaflet produced by Canadian Farmers that included a section on GMO. The article stated that these farmers were pro GMO and  believe genetically modified foods to be safe, after all “this is the food we feed our families”. I was opposed to GMO but that was based more on the fact that I don’t like anyone messing around with my food than on actual knowledge. What did the farmers know that I didn’t? First, what is a Genetically Modified Organism  (GMO)? This is an organism, like a seed, that has had its genes (DNA) altered to act in a way that does not happen naturally and/or contains genes from another organism. Source: eatrightontario.ca GMO is a most controversial subject and I will only present what I’ve discovered. There is an immense amount of information, pro and con, much more than can be condensed into one post. However, the following document is the one – of the many papers I found – that most impressed me. Anyone seriously wanting to know about GMO is encouraged to read this 123 page document. Below I am quoting word for word from their executive summary. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ #GMO MYTHS AND TRUTHS An evidence-based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of genetically modified crops, Version 1.3 By: Michael Antoniou, Claire Robinson, John Fagan, June 2012 #EarthOpenSource, www.earthopensource.org, 2nd Floor 145-157, St. John St. London EC1V 4PY UK EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Genetically modified (GM) crops are promoted on the basis of a range of far-reaching claims from the GM crop industry and its supporters. They say that GM crops: Are an extension of natural breeding and do not pose different risks from naturally bred crops Are safe to eat and can be more nutritious than naturally bred crops Are strictly regulated for safety Increase crop yields Reduce pesticide use Benefit farmers and make their lives easier Bring economic benefits Benefit the environment Can help solve problems caused by climate change Reduce energy use Will help feed the world However, a large and growing body of scientific and other authoritative evidence shows that these claims are not true. On the contrary, evidence presented in this report indicates that GM crops: Are laboratory-made, using technology that is totally different from natural breeding methods, and pose different risks from non-GM crops Can be toxic, allergenic or less nutritious than their natural counterparts Are not adequately regulated to ensure safety Do not increase yield potential Do not reduce pesticide use but increase it Create serious problems for farmers, including herbicide-tolerant “superweeds”, compromised soil quality, and increased disease susceptibility in crops Have mixed economic effects Harm soil quality, disrupt ecosystems, and reduce biodiversity Do not offer effective solutions to climate change Are as energy-hungry as any other chemically-farmed crops Cannot solve the problem of world hunger but distract from its real causes – poverty, lack of access to food and, increasingly, lack of access to land to grow it on. Based on the evidence presented in this report, there is no need to take risks with GM crops when effective, readily available, and sustainable solutions to the problems that GM technology is claimed to address already exist. Conventional plant breading, in some cases helped by safe modern technologies like gene mapping and marker assisted selection, continues to outperform GM in producing high-yield, drought-tolerant, and pest- and disease-resistant crops that can meet our present and future food needs. End of Executive Summary. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~  THE PROS: Lead researcher Alessandro Nicolia, applied biologist at the University of Perugia, told...

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Sodium – Retire that Salt Shaker

Posted by on Mar 22, 2015 in Frugal For Everyone, Health | 56 comments

Sodium – Retire that Salt Shaker

Has our focus on cholesterol taken the attention away from excessive sodium intake thereby creating other serious health problems? Over the past number of years there has been a great emphasis placed on watching our cholesterol and fat intake and we have taken that seriously. While I’m definitely not suggesting that we stop paying attention to cholesterol, it has become clear to me that we also need to pay attention to our sodium intake. I know three people who have serious kidney problems. One person was just advised she has 50% kidney function, another has to go for dialysis three times a week and the third person recently had a kidney transplant. That was enough for me to delve into possible contributing factors and discover that sodium was high on the list. Sodium plays a key role in your body. It helps maintain normal blood pressure, supports the work of your nerves and muscles, and regulates your body’s fluid balance. It is very important to maintain a healthy sodium level as either too much or too little can cause serious health problems. Hypernatremia -too much sodium in the blood – is linked to asthma, osteoporosis, stomach cancer, and high blood pressure which many result in stroke, heart disease and kidney disease. Hyponatremia – too low a level of sodium in the blood – can result in decreased kidney function or kidney failure. Hyponatremia is hard to diagnose because symptoms tend to be vague – they can include any or all of the following: a person’s mental state can be affected, causing confusion, reduced awareness, irrational or unusual behaviour; the person may suffer from loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting; the person may suffer from extreme fatigue; muscle spasms, cramps and even seizures may occur. While it is unlikely that hyponatremia will be caused by not taking in enough salt, since almost everything we consume has some sodium content, excessive salt intake can definitely lead to hypernatremia. According to the World Action on Salt and Health, “Studies in humans have now shown that excessive salt intake increases the amount of urinary protein (4,5) which is a major risk factor for developing kidney disease and cardiovascular disease.” They further state: “Individuals with kidney disease should restrict their salt intake because in nearly all forms of kidney disease the kidney retains sodium and water in the body, causing further deterioration of renal function.” So how much salt do we need? Recommended daily sodium intake (RDI) by age: Salt should NOT be added to food for children under the age of 1 year. 1-3 years –       1,000mg 4-8 years –       1,200mg 9-13 years –     1,500mg 14-50 years –   1,500mg 51-70 years –   1,300mg 71+ years –      1,200mg Pregnant Women 1,500mg Maximum tolerable limit for adults – 2,300mg 1 teaspoon of salt contains 2,300mg. However, adult Canadians and Americans consume about 3,400mg per day and in some European countries the average salt consumption may be as high as 4,000mg per day. Governments are taking steps to reduce salt consumption in their countries but do we really want government to take over this responsibility? When we know the risks associated with high sodium intake can we not take on the responsibility for our own health? I consider myself fairly knowledgeable when it comes to healthy eating, but the sodium content of some foods came as a huge surprise. For instance, 1/3 cup of bran buds contains 170mg of sodium; 1 large flour tortilla 540mg; 1/2 cup of low-fat cottage cheese 457mg; 2 teaspoon light soya sauce 830mg. These are foods we choose...

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A Special Olympics Champion

Posted by on Feb 15, 2015 in Frugal For Everyone, Health | 47 comments

A Special Olympics Champion

One of our sons just returned from North Bay where he competed in the Special Olympics Provincial Championships. This is an amazing event, complete with all the pomp that goes along with any Olympic competition. The proceedings began at 7 pm. on January 29/15, with the parade of athletes, musical entertainment and the lighting of the cauldron1, which signaled the beginning of the games. 1An impressive and important start to the games is the Law Enforcement Torch Run. The North Bay Police Chief and Officers carried the torch in intervals along the planned route to the site of the opening ceremonies. Once there they passed the torch to a Special Olympics athlete and together ran up to the cauldron to light it. Competition in a half dozen sports included Nordic Skiing, Alpine Skiing, Snowshoeing, Curling, Figure Skating and Speed Skating. As you can tell from the picture, our son participated in Nordic Skiing and came home with gold, silver and bronze medals. Pretty Impressive. Of course, this wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and training put in ahead of time by our son and his Special Olympics coach. They have every reason to be proud of themselves and each other. Special Olympics is an outstanding program that started during the Kennedy era in the USA. It has since expanded to more than 4 million Special Olympic athletes in 170 countries around the world. The different Law Enforcement Agencies around the globe are its strongest supporters. There are a great many benefits for participants in the Special Olympics programs. The physical activity helps keep the rate of cardiovascular disease and obesity down. Through its many sport programs athletes gain self-confidence and social competence. Being active and involved with others means less loneliness which in turn lessens the chance of depression. Our son takes part in a variety of different sports sponsored by his Special Olympics District. Thanks to volunteer leaders and coaches, besides Nordic Skiing, he’s involved with basketball, track and field, curling, and bowling. There are more activities offered, but since he also holds down a full time job he’s not able to participate in all of them. I know without our local Special Olympics programs and the commitment and time given by the leaders and coaches, our son would not be the confident, outgoing, outstanding person he is. We owe them a great debt of gratitude. Here’s the link for anyone wanting to read more about the Special Olympics Organization: http://www.specialolympics.org If you’re interesting in knowing more about local Special Olympic programs, check out this link: http://www.specialolympics.org/program_locator.aspx Talk to you again next week,...

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