Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Add Turmeric To Your Diet


If you're not using turmeric, now is the time to add it to your diet. Anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antioxidant properties with benefits to indigestion, ulcers and osteoarthritis and more.


Thursday, October 6, 2016

5 Ways Home Gardeners Can Make More Robust Soil

As a child, Kristin Ohlson had easy access to gardens. Her grandparents maintained a small orchard and grew produce on their farm; her parents also planted huge plots of vegetables and flowers each year. While Ohlson didn’t develop a deeper agricultural interest until she grew up (all those hours harvesting vegetables cut into childhood playtime, after all), she eventually started researching how food is grown. And that research turned into a minor obsession.

In her 2014 book, The Soil Will Save Us, Ohlson documents how soil scientists are experimenting with cover crops, composting, no-till techniques, and other methods that help farmers reduce their reliance on fertilizer and rethink their relationships with soil. “Dirt First,” her more recent feature for Orion Magazine, and a Q&A with the Food & Environment Reporting Network (FERN) dive even deeper into the subject, exploring the role that microorganisms play in soil health, for both farm fields and backyard gardens.

“Plants pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and create a carbon syrup,” she writes. “About 60 percent of this fuels the plant’s growth, with the remaining exuded through the roots to soil microorganisms, which trade mineral nutrients they’ve liberated from rocks, sand, silt, and clay—in other words, fertilizer—for their share of the carbon bounty.”

But before you chalk this all up as far too heady for the home gardener, check out her five easy steps for nurturing vegetables and flowers with natural methods based on that big-picture research—but applied to our own backyards.

1. DISTURB THE SOIL AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE

Soil health starts with one basic principle: Don’t disturb the dirt. Sure, soil supports roots and helps hold up plants, but it also serves as a habitat for beneficial microorganisms.

“Underneath our feet is this incredible world teeming with billions of microorganisms that have been working in the soil for millions of years,” Ohlson says. “That ecosystem in the soil is what plants depend on for their nutrition, their water, and their defenses against chemicals, diseases, and insects.”

Rather than tilling garden rows and digging deep holes for new plants, she suggests leaving the soil structure as intact as possible. Poke small holes for seeds and dig slightly bigger spaces before planting seedlings.

2. MAKE PEACE WITH WEEDS

It may sound counter-intuitive—maybe even chaotic, in terms of landscaping—but weeds don’t need to be treated as an enemy. Even uninvited plants can help protect soil and feed the microorganisms at work below the surface.

“I used to dig up weeds or pull them out by the roots, but now I don’t want to disturb the soil. I go around with scissors and snip weeds off at the soil level instead,” says Ohlson. She then scatters clipped stems and leaves between the plants she wants to keep. This organic matter functions as mulch and acts as compost as it decomposes.

3. ENCOURAGE DIVERSITY

“In nature, there is this vast abundance of diversity—plants and insects and all kinds of life—in every square foot. This biodiversity helps feed and support the biodiversity in the soil,” she says. (Check out the incredible variety of plants in this enchanting Texas garden.)

Follow nature’s lead in your garden by growing a variety of vegetables, fruits, flowers, herbs, and other plants in close proximity. The variety promotes healthy, robust soil and might also attract a new mix of pollinators.

4. PLANT COVER CROPS


Every gardener has heard this one before, and Ohlson is a firm believer as well. She aims to keep her garden soil engaged, either by covering it in dead plant material or by nurturing live roots in the ground. Cover crops play a dual role. They interact with microorganisms by extending their roots as they grow, and they provide extra organic material to protect the soil once they’re harvested. In small gardens, simply clip cover crops with scissors and scatter over bare ground.

Not sure what kind of cover crop to plant? First, consider what might thrive in your location and climate. “Then, see what plants and flowers are native to your region,” Ohlson suggests. “But really, I think people can use almost anything, as long as it grows.” (These 5 cover crops will keep a small plot healthy.)

5. TRADE FERTILIZER FOR COMPOST

When plants rely on fertilizer, they get lazy. Their partnership with microorganisms in the soil changes, and that can impact the wider microbe community. By using compost instead, you’re enhancing the soil with a concentration of microorganisms and carbon that help plants thrive.

If making your own seems too messy or daunting, look into local sources. Some cities collect food waste and make the resulting compost available to the public. Elsewhere, garden and hardware stores sell organic compost by the bag. You might find regional farmers who can supply the materials you need, as well.

“I also put sticks, some food waste, and dead plant matter around my living plants. That keeps the benefits of compost happening on the most basic level,” Ohlson says.

FOR SMALL-SPACE GARDENERS

Ohlson’s overall advice is similar for gardeners who grow plants in pots or containers, where soil mindfulness is especially important.

“When water hits bare soil, it compacts that soil. Even the force of one raindrop can make an impact. So, the less that bare soil is exposed to water, the healthier that soil is,” she says. “Even in a small pot, I don’t want to be pouring water directly on the soil. I’d rather have it seeping through clipped plant material and reaching the soil in a gentler way.”

Ohlson has two raised beds in her own backyard and she packs them with a diverse selection of vegetables, flowers, and shrubs. “I plant things really close together and try to have a lot of live roots in the ground. It’s so rewarding to see the incredible production I get out of these two tiny raised beds,” she says.

Monday, September 26, 2016

4 Fall Produce Picks to Boost Immunity


Are you getting enough of this crucial vitamin? An antioxidant, vitamin C promotes wrinkle-free skin, supports good immunity, and may help the body protect itself against some diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Oranges and other citrus aren’t the only sources. These fall/winter vegetables offer ample amounts too. With cold and flu season around the corner, now is a good time to revamp your crisper drawer with these fresh picks.

Cooking tip: Vitamin C can be easily lost in the cooking process, particularly when veggies are boiled and drained. To retain more nutrients, cook into soups or stews, or lightly steam or microwave. Roasting or broiling results in less vitamin retention than other methods, but the results are very delicious. Frying virtually obliterates vitamin C and other volatile nutrients. Our advice? Avoid frying, vary other cooking methods, and enjoy.

Broccoli

Broccoli provides about 100 mg vitamin C per cup (chopped), plus sulforaphane, a potent antioxidant studied for its anticancer effects.
Serving idea: Try lightly steaming and dressing with lemon juice (more C!), olive oil and salt.

Cauliflower

A cup of cauliflower contains approximately 93 mg vitamin C. Bonus: You’ll also get several grams of fiber.
Serving idea: Steam cauliflower, then mash with miso, sesame oil and ginger; or garlic, olive oil and herbs.

Kale

A cup of kale contains tons of vitamin A (twice your daily value), vitamin K, trace minerals and 80 mg of vitamin C.
Serving idea: Remove tough stems, chop, and massage with lemon juice, olive oil and a little garlic until slightly wilted. Let this sit at room temperature. Excellent add-ins: toasted sliced almonds, chopped hazelnuts, parmesan cheese or apple slices.

Brussels Sprouts

The tiny cousins of green cabbage, Brussels sprouts contain 48 mg vitamin C per half cup.
Serving idea: Steam lightly and toss with hazelnut or walnut oil, a touch of maple syrup, and sea salt. (Roasting is a favorite cooking method because it brings out Brussels sprouts’ sweet flavor, but you’ll get less vitamin C.)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

This 5-Ingredient Autumn Juice Recipe Might Fix Everything


Step aside sugar-loaded pumpkin spice latte, this autumn juice recipe takes seasonal drinks to a whole new level. Unlike PSLs, this  juice is made with real food ingredients that perk up the immune system and fill your body with vital nutrients all while embodying the flavors of the season.

Juice, often best served green after a sweaty yoga or barre class, can also be filled with autumnal flavors and seasonal ingredients. Leave it to our favorite rooted and grounded fruits and vegetables to get you feeling balanced, brightened, and rejuvenated in these cool fall months.

Packed with sweet potato, apple, ginger, turmeric, and carrot, this autumn juice is filled with whole food superstars. We don’t mean to play favorites, but the sweet potato in this recipe is a total winner. More than just vegetable mash and fries, sweet potatoes are an easily juiced vegetable that deliver ample amounts of nutrients.

Sweet Potato Health Benefits

This orange-fleshed beauty is one of our favorite grounding vegetables. Along with providing nutrient support to the body, sweet potatoes are easily grown across the world and considered an environmentally stable crop.

Fun fact: NASA thinks these potatoes are pretty stellar too. The tubers were chosen as a candidate crop to be grown and incorporated into menus for astronauts on space missions due to their (crazy impressive) nutritional value.



Besides being astronaut-approved, sweet potatoes are a great source of easily digestible fiber, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants such as beta-carotene. Sweet potatoes also contain bioactive compounds such as phenolic acids and anthocyanins, which contribute to the bright orange color of their skin and flesh and boast health benefits as well.

Just one cup of sweet potato provides 214 percent daily value of vitamin A, 52 percent daily value of vitamin C, 50 percent daily value manganese, as well as impressive amounts of copper, vitamin B6, B3, B1, potassium, and biotin.

With their ample nutrients plus bioactive compounds, sweet potatoes have been widely studied for their abundant health benefits. Numerous studies have shown that sweet potato consumption is linked to anti-cancer properties, reduced inflammation, antimicrobial activity, hormone-balancing abilities, and extreme free-radical-scavenging powers.




This autumn juice recipe also boats other orange-skinned superfoods such as carrots and turmeric. These whole foods deliver impressive amounts of vitamins A and C along with a wide variety of other vital nutrients. Turmeric is especially nourishing and has been shown to reduce inflammation, be protective against certain cancers, and soothe stomach issues. Just a tip, always consume your turmeric with black pepper, which makes its beneficial compounds more bioactive.

Sip the flavors of fall with this seasonal and nutrient-rich autumn juice. We know it will be your new favorite festive drink. Buh-bye, PSLs.


Autumn Juice

Serves 1-2

Ingredients
1 large sweet potato
1 crisp apple, such as fuji or honeycrisp
1-inch nub ginger
1-inch nub turmeric
4 large carrots
Pinch of black pepper

Directions
Run all ingredients through a juicer and finish with a pinch of black pepper. Drink autumn juice immediately or store in the refrigerator in a sealed glass jar for one to two days.


 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

How to Use Essential Oils for Allergies


Nothing is more frustrating than the unrelenting urge to sneeze, sniffle, and wheeze through a nose plugged up with pollen. Allergies are no fun, but the conventional allergy medications used to treat them can be even worse, often leaving you feeling amped up and groggy all at the same time. But you can find relief without nasty side effects by learning how to use essential oils for allergies.

How to Use Essential Oils

Essential oils are concentrated fragrant oils distilled from natural plant sources and used for aromatherapy and alternative wellness. Essential oils enter the body through two primary avenues, either topically or through inhalation. Ingestion should be avoided in most cases because of potency. Learning how to use essential oils can help you treat a range of ailments more naturally. Application methods include:

1. Diffuser

A diffuser disperses the essential oil by either exposing it to air, heat, or water.

2. Spray

After diluting essential oils in water you can use them in a spray bottle. For example, this lavender magnesium spray is great for relaxation just before bed.

3. Topically

Essential oils applied directly to the skin need to be diluted with a carrier oil (for example, a vegetable or nut oil). The essential oil should have a concentration of no greater than three to five percent. That means in one teaspoon of carrier oil, you would add three drops of pure essential oil. This would make a three percent solution that could be used on a portion of the body. If you’re using the oil for massage therapy over the entire body, it should be diluted to one percent.

[Tip: Use an organic and cold pressed carrier oil like almond, grapeseed, jojoba, or avocado oil. It can either be added using a compress or applied directly to the skin through massage.]


5 Scientifically Backed Essential Oils for Allergies

Everything You Need to Know About How to Use Essential Oils for Allergies

Allergies like hay-fever come with a host of symptoms from runny nose to sinus headache, sinus pressure, itchy eyes and throat, and the list goes on. But a number of essential oils may relieve those irritating symptoms. While essential oils do have some side effects, for example, they can be irritating to the skin as well as the mouth, nose, and eyes, they don’t cause side effects like allergy medications, which can make you feel amped up, groggy, and dehydrated. Essential oils are also controversial for pregnant women and children. You should talk to your doctor before using them.

Essential oils can be less expensive than over-the-counter or prescription medications when you consider that just a few drops go a long way. A one-ounce bottle of eucalyptus oil costs around $6, but it takes just a few drops added to a diffuser to have an impact on the respiratory system. Compare this to allergy medications like Claritin and Zyrtec, which range in price from around $15 to $40.

Science is behind the curveball when it comes to essential oils, but according to researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center, some experts believe that olfactory smell receptors in the brain communicate to other parts of the brain like the amygdala and hippocampus, influencing physical, emotional, and mental health.

Add a few drops of essential oil to a diffuser to open up the airways and reduce inflammation. These essential oils for allergies are worth trying:
1. Eucalyptus

A study published in April 2010 issue of Alternative Medicine Review found that eucalyptus has antimicrobial effects. It can be used to treat colds and flu by opening the respiratory system and reducing inflammation.

2. Rosemary

Rosemary is slightly more mild than eucalyptus, but it also works to open up inflammation in the sinuses. According to a 2011 Penn State University Medical Center study, rosemary oil also has antimicrobial qualities and can neutralize some pathogens.

3. Clove

Clove oil has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial characteristics, and can help to reduce allergy symptoms. Research published in an October 2012 issue of the Brazilian Journal of Microbiology found that clove oil can be used as an antimicrobial to kill internal and external pathogens.

4. Lavender

Lavender is a natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory. It may help reduce irritation and relax your breathing. A study published in the July 2014 issue of the journal Life Sciences, found that lavender essential oil inhalation effectively suppressed inflammation in the airways.

5. Chamomile

Chamomile is another anti-inflammatory that relaxes and relieves sinus headaches. Working with chamomile essential oil months before your hay-fever sets in may boost your immune response and decrease your reaction. One study, published in the November 2010 issue of Molecular Medicine Reports, found that chamomile can be used to treat inflammation of the mucus membranes in the mouth and throat.
When it comes to naturally clearing up your respiratory system, eucalyptus and peppermint oil are both highly effective, according to certified nutrition specialist and natural medicine expert, Dr. Josh Axe. This homemade Vapor Rub by Dr. Axe uses both and helps to open up the airways.

Homemade Vapor Rub

Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup grated beeswax
20 drops peppermint essential oil
20 drops eucalyptus essential oil
Glass Jar

Directions

1. Place olive oil, coconut oil, and beeswax in a jar. Place a saucepan with 2 inches of water over medium low heat. Add jar to saucepan to melt oils.

2. Let cool before adding essential oils. Pour in a jar and allow to set up.

Essential Oil Allergies for Children

Essential oils are potent and even poisonous to children when they haven’t been properly diluted. Take precaution when it comes to the little ones. Here are a few tips:
  • Keep essential oils out of reach for children.
  • Never give them to children orally.
  • Always dilute with a carrier oil.
  • Keep them away from a child’s nose. Applying diluted essential oils to the feet are often best.
  • Introduce them slowly and watch for any reaction.
  • Avoid use on children less than three months old because of extreme skin sensitivity.
  • Stick to really mild oils for babies like chamomile, dill, and lavender.
  • Talk to your child’s pediatrician before use.

Where To Buy Essential Oils

Everything You Need to Know About How to Use Essential Oils for Allergies

Not sure where to buy essential oils? When it comes to choosing essential oils, look for brands that are made purely of the oil and not diluted with fillers like propylene glycol. Bonus if they’re wildcrafted and made from organic plants grown in their indigenous locations. Read labels, and if you can’t tell from the label, call the company. If it’s hard to get a response, choose another company. Mountain Rose Herbs and Plant Therapy are both smaller companies that produce pure, high quality oils.

[Note: Always consult with your primary care physician before using essential oils to treat any type of health concern.]


How to Use Essential Oils for Allergies


Nothing is more frustrating than the unrelenting urge to sneeze, sniffle, and wheeze through a nose plugged up with pollen. Allergies are no fun, but the conventional allergy medications used to treat them can be even worse, often leaving you feeling amped up and groggy all at the same time. But you can find relief without nasty side effects by learning how to use essential oils for allergies.

How to Use Essential Oils

Essential oils are concentrated fragrant oils distilled from natural plant sources and used for aromatherapy and alternative wellness. Essential oils enter the body through two primary avenues, either topically or through inhalation. Ingestion should be avoided in most cases because of potency. Learning how to use essential oils can help you treat a range of ailments more naturally. Application methods include:

1. Diffuser

A diffuser disperses the essential oil by either exposing it to air, heat, or water.

2. Spray

After diluting essential oils in water you can use them in a spray bottle. For example, this lavender magnesium spray is great for relaxation just before bed.

3. Topically

Essential oils applied directly to the skin need to be diluted with a carrier oil (for example, a vegetable or nut oil). The essential oil should have a concentration of no greater than three to five percent. That means in one teaspoon of carrier oil, you would add three drops of pure essential oil. This would make a three percent solution that could be used on a portion of the body. If you’re using the oil for massage therapy over the entire body, it should be diluted to one percent.

[Tip: Use an organic and cold pressed carrier oil like almond, grapeseed, jojoba, or avocado oil. It can either be added using a compress or applied directly to the skin through massage.]


5 Scientifically Backed Essential Oils for Allergies

Everything You Need to Know About How to Use Essential Oils for Allergies

Allergies like hay-fever come with a host of symptoms from runny nose to sinus headache, sinus pressure, itchy eyes and throat, and the list goes on. But a number of essential oils may relieve those irritating symptoms. While essential oils do have some side effects, for example, they can be irritating to the skin as well as the mouth, nose, and eyes, they don’t cause side effects like allergy medications, which can make you feel amped up, groggy, and dehydrated. Essential oils are also controversial for pregnant women and children. You should talk to your doctor before using them.

Essential oils can be less expensive than over-the-counter or prescription medications when you consider that just a few drops go a long way. A one-ounce bottle of eucalyptus oil costs around $6, but it takes just a few drops added to a diffuser to have an impact on the respiratory system. Compare this to allergy medications like Claritin and Zyrtec, which range in price from around $15 to $40.

Science is behind the curveball when it comes to essential oils, but according to researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center, some experts believe that olfactory smell receptors in the brain communicate to other parts of the brain like the amygdala and hippocampus, influencing physical, emotional, and mental health.

Add a few drops of essential oil to a diffuser to open up the airways and reduce inflammation. These essential oils for allergies are worth trying:
1. Eucalyptus

A study published in April 2010 issue of Alternative Medicine Review found that eucalyptus has antimicrobial effects. It can be used to treat colds and flu by opening the respiratory system and reducing inflammation.

2. Rosemary

Rosemary is slightly more mild than eucalyptus, but it also works to open up inflammation in the sinuses. According to a 2011 Penn State University Medical Center study, rosemary oil also has antimicrobial qualities and can neutralize some pathogens.

3. Clove

Clove oil has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial characteristics, and can help to reduce allergy symptoms. Research published in an October 2012 issue of the Brazilian Journal of Microbiology found that clove oil can be used as an antimicrobial to kill internal and external pathogens.

4. Lavender

Lavender is a natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory. It may help reduce irritation and relax your breathing. A study published in the July 2014 issue of the journal Life Sciences, found that lavender essential oil inhalation effectively suppressed inflammation in the airways.

5. Chamomile

Chamomile is another anti-inflammatory that relaxes and relieves sinus headaches. Working with chamomile essential oil months before your hay-fever sets in may boost your immune response and decrease your reaction. One study, published in the November 2010 issue of Molecular Medicine Reports, found that chamomile can be used to treat inflammation of the mucus membranes in the mouth and throat.
When it comes to naturally clearing up your respiratory system, eucalyptus and peppermint oil are both highly effective, according to certified nutrition specialist and natural medicine expert, Dr. Josh Axe. This homemade Vapor Rub by Dr. Axe uses both and helps to open up the airways.

Homemade Vapor Rub

Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup grated beeswax
20 drops peppermint essential oil
20 drops eucalyptus essential oil
Glass Jar

Directions

1. Place olive oil, coconut oil, and beeswax in a jar. Place a saucepan with 2 inches of water over medium low heat. Add jar to saucepan to melt oils.

2. Let cool before adding essential oils. Pour in a jar and allow to set up.

Essential Oil Allergies for Children

Essential oils are potent and even poisonous to children when they haven’t been properly diluted. Take precaution when it comes to the little ones. Here are a few tips:
  • Keep essential oils out of reach for children.
  • Never give them to children orally.
  • Always dilute with a carrier oil.
  • Keep them away from a child’s nose. Applying diluted essential oils to the feet are often best.
  • Introduce them slowly and watch for any reaction.
  • Avoid use on children less than three months old because of extreme skin sensitivity.
  • Stick to really mild oils for babies like chamomile, dill, and lavender.
  • Talk to your child’s pediatrician before use.

Where To Buy Essential Oils

Everything You Need to Know About How to Use Essential Oils for Allergies

Not sure where to buy essential oils? When it comes to choosing essential oils, look for brands that are made purely of the oil and not diluted with fillers like propylene glycol. Bonus if they’re wildcrafted and made from organic plants grown in their indigenous locations. Read labels, and if you can’t tell from the label, call the company. If it’s hard to get a response, choose another company. Mountain Rose Herbs and Plant Therapy are both smaller companies that produce pure, high quality oils.

[Note: Always consult with your primary care physician before using essential oils to treat any type of health concern.]


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Food Freezing Tips: How Long Can You Store Meals in Your Freezer? [Infographic]

Food preservation in cold temperatures has been practiced since the early days of mankind, although not as effortlessly as today when we have powerful freezers, polythene bags and plastic containers, freezer labels and other utensils that help us better preserve food. We also have the knowledge of how to do it properly.

To make sure defrosted food is as fresh, nutritious and tasty as before freezing it, there are certain rules to follow. For example:
  • Food should always be frozen at the peak of its ripeness/freshness;
  • Some types of food do not freeze well, such as eggs in shell or potatoes;
  • Liquids expand in cold temps, so it’s important to leave enough room in the container when freezing beverages, etc.
Most importantly, we must know how long we can keep each type of food in the freezer before it loses its taste or even becomes unsafe to eat (if air gets in).

The following infographic is created as a guide to help you figure out how long you can keep meat, seafood, ice cream and other food products in the freezer. Keep it on your fridge or freezer for quick reference when planning meals.